When the doors closed at Krushari


 Reform of care services for Bulgaria’s institutionalised children took an important step forward in January 2016 when the last young person left Krushari, the country’s largest residential institution for children with disabilities. The closure of the Krushari institution is widely seen as a significant step in the continuing deinstitutionalisation process in Bulgaria, as it undoubtedly showed some of the most desperate conditions in which disadvantaged, marginalised children can live.

In 2010, Bulgaria was criticised by the United Nations and local NGOs over high mortality rates in Krushari, which housed 93 children, with complex intellectual and physical disabilities. Most lived in their beds, with little communication from the outside world and severe developmental delays. There were too few staff, with too few specialist skills, to care properly for them.

A team of Lumos experts were invited into Krushari to help save the lives of children and stabilize their health as work began to prepare them to be moved to alternative care.

As part of national project Childhood for All, the admission of children with disabilities to Krushari stopped the end of 2010. Since then, Lumos has worked with other NGOs to support the Bulgarian State Agency for Child Protection, and other authorities, to find family-style specialist care placements, based on an assessment of the individual needs of the young person.

All the 93 children and young people, many now in their 20s, have been resettled in family-based care or small group home services, after each underwent an individual needs assessment and significant preparation to help them make the transition to their new home. They now live in a number of different areas, some close to their families and some attending mainstream schools with the support of local health and social services.


The closure of Krushari has quickly been followed by that of the last remaining institution for children with disabilities in the country, formerly active in the south-central village of Ilakov Rut, in February 2016. This means that children with disabilities in the country will no longer face institutionalisation, and will instead be supported by local community-based care services and social assistance to remain with their families or in specialist care placements. 

Lumos and other NGOs, through the coalition 'Childhood 2025' continue to work with the Bulgarian Government as it plans the next stage of its deinstitutionalisation strategy, with the aim of protecting all vulnerable children and preventing the unnecessary family separation which leads to institutionalisation.



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