Child and Youth Zone – a Complex of services for children in conflict with the law was opened in Sliven

17.09.2015 12:19


The new integrated model has been developed by UNICEF in partnership with Sliven municipality and is in support of the juvenile justice system reform

17 September 2015, Sliven - A Complex of services for children in conflict with the law was opened in Sliven. The project is the result of a partnership between the United Nations Children’s Fund in Bulgaria and national level institutions - the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Social Agency for Child  Protection, the Agency for Social Assistance, as well as the municipalities in the Sliven region - and is realized with the support of the French National Committee for UNICEF.

“The children who are in conflict with the law are in fact children at risk who need support; their families and communities, too. This is why the penal (retributive) approach does not work - it only makes children feel worse. Because of that, we need to work on the introduction of the restorative justice approach that brings back the balanced relationship between the child, his/her family, the victim and the community”, said Ms. Milena Harizanova, UNICEF Bulgaria’s Child Protection Specialist.

The integrated service for children in conflict with the law aims to strengthen the cooperation and coordination between the child protection system and the judicial system by supporting the professionals in their work with children and their families. The Center has been established as a result of the “Support for children in conflict with the law, children at risk and their families” project implemented by Sliven municipality.

“Sliven municipality is always in favor of introducing new social services for the wellbeing of children, and today’s opening is a confirmation of this. The problems that children in conflict with the law experience are very complex so that’s why the approach that we adopt should be individual, as is every case. Sliven Municipality encourages all activities that lead to the regress of aggression among children, hinder dropping out of school and support children in the solution of their problems and the securing of their future development”, said Mr, Kolyo Milev, Mayor of Sliven Municipality.

The overall management of the Complex is assigned to the Social Activities and Practices Institute (SAPI).

“The main idea behind the provision of these services is to try to cooperate with the institutions and to ensure frameworks, support and the accompanying of children who are at a high level of risk”, said Ms. Nelly Petrova-Dimitrova, Chairperson of the managing board of SAPI.

What do the Complex services for children in conflict with the law encompass:

:: A Center for intensive socio-educative support

The targeted services for the prevention of the dropping out of school and behavior in conflict with the law, as well as the accompanying and support for resocialization will be provided by the existing Center for Work with Children on the Streets in Sliven. The Center has become a specialized service provider for children in conflict with the law and their families, offering new work methodology and has been renamed to “Center for intensive socio-educative support”.  In order to guarantee an effective access for the children from vulnerable communities, some of the Center’s services have been located in “Nadezhda” neighborhood in Sliven (a Roma-minority district). 

:: Observed Home

The monitored accommodation is needed for the temporary stay of youth beyond 18 years of age who have left the correctional-educative institutions. The accommodation can host 4 young people at any given time; the repair works, the furbishing and equipping have been financed via the project. The accommodation’s cozy atmosphere is provided by IKEA

:: Transient Home

The planned transient accommodation is needed for the temporary stay of children below the age of 18, who have left correctional-educative institutions.  The transient accommodation will be able to host 4 children at any given time; the repair works, the furbishing and equipping have been financed via the project. After one year of testing this pilot model, Sliven Municipality is going to apply for state funding and try to turn this into a nationally delegated service. The accommodation’s cozy atmosphere is ensured by IKEA. 

Why it is specifically Sliven that hosts a Complex of services for children in conflict with the law:

Sliven is also host of the country’s only female prison and correctional facility for girls. There, is also one out of the two remaining Socio-educative boarding schools in Bulgaria, where children aged between 8 and 18 serve correctional measures. The region of Sliven has been chosen for the development of a network of services for children in conflict with the law, children at risk, their families – as a result of a situational analysis which identifies children in conflict with the law as a highly vulnerable group with specific needs and the need of support regarding: overcoming the causes for committing a crime, the prevention of recidivism, help for resocialization and reintegration, educational, social, health support and specialized legal assitence.

Why the Complex of services for children in conflict with the law is a key step in the reforming of the Justice-for-Children system:

The web of services created in Sliven aims to support the crucial reform of the Justice-for-Children system in Bulgaria, introducing a new model of delivering integrated services for children in conflict with the law and children at risk in the community. For this purpose, an effective mechanism for coordination and cooperation on local and national level has been developed. The services and activities are in the areas of education, social services, justice and enforcement, healthcare and employment.  Only an integrated approach, based on the international standards for the deviation of prosecution, alternatives to detention, imprisonment and measures for reintegration, and the continuing care can guarantee the best interest of the children in conflict with the law and that of society – so that these children can turn into persons who have respect for the rights and freedoms of others and will as well abide by the law.

Additional information:

According to data by the National Institute of Statics, in Sliven in year 2014 there have been:   
- 206 cases of children on whom disciplinary measures have been imposed in accordance with the existing Juvenile Delinquency Act;
- 236 children who have been visiting the so called Child pedagogical units – for having committed status offences (the so called “antisocial behavior” – such as running away from home, vagabondism, begging, prostitution);
- 197 children who have committed actions that have been assessed as crimes by the Criminal code.

About UNICEF:   
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

For more information:  
JacklinTzocheva, CommunicationOfficer, UNICEFBulgaria,     
Tel: 02/9696207, E-mail:

IvayloSpasov, CommunicationConsultant, UNICEFBulgaria,  
Mobile: 0888 40 63 83, E-mail: ispasov@unicef@org

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