CSIAR: a warm welcome to overcome the social exclusion of disabled children

The CSIAR (Innovative Residential Alternatives Complex) Project promotes better social integration for mentally and physically disabled children and teenagers through innovative facilities that provide a pleasant living environment suited to their needs and designed to resemble a family environment as closely as possible. 

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The Safe House © L.F. Petrova The Safe House © L.F. Petrova

" The family-type accommodation centres and the safe house mark a radical change in the social services aimed at children and teenagers with mental or physical disabilities. Both of these residential services are an expression of empathy and respect for the dignity of the individual regardless of ethnic origin, gender, disability, age or social status. "

Rozalina Georgieva, project leader

In the municipality of Vratsa, in the north-western region of Bulgaria, the CSIAR project has built three family-type accommodation centres and a safe house that can take up to 50 residents. Thirty-nine permanent new jobs have been created within the project, which has boosted local development in one of Europe's most underdeveloped regions.

Facilities designed for children's well-being and healthy development

Great care has been taken with every detail, from the choice of sites (which are located in the most densely populated parts of the town) to the design of the buildings and landscaping of the areas, to ensure that these new reception facilities encourage social inclusion and participation in public life for disabled children. The facilities also help them to escape social isolation by ensuring their safety within a homely and harmonious environment, and by facilitating their access to education, health and social services that are all specialised and adapted to their specific needs.

An innovative and strategic project

The project is innovative in its holistic approach, integrating social, educational, healthcare and other services for the care of disabled children and teenagers, who rank among the most vulnerable groups in society. This radical change in the kind of shelter and care provided also helps combat the stigmatisation that these children often experience.

Additionally, this project is part of an overall strategic framework, since it is in line with the fundamental objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the aims of Bulgaria's national strategy for childhood and Vratsa's municipal strategy for the organisation of its social services. The project also addresses the Europe 2020 targets for employment (by creating permanent jobs in an underdeveloped region) and for integrating people at risk of social exclusion (thanks to its innovative approach to the care of disabled children).

Total investment and EU funding

Investment in the CSIAR project has totalled EUR 1 289 791. The contribution from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounted to EUR 1 038 916 for the 2007-2013 programming period, under the 'Regional Development' Operational Programme. The financial sustainability of the project should in future be guaranteed by the Bulgarian state. Municipal funding is also a possibility if state support is lacking.

Draft date