The foundation “Kids with Developmental Problems” was established 9 years ago as an initiative of parents of special-needs kids to support each other. The current project is a continuation of our efforts to improve the quality of life of children with special needs in Bulgaria, and to further encourage parents-helping-parents (PHP) mechanisms. The project aim is to start a public debate and to establish a PHP platform to support families of children with special needs to have a second child and to implement a balanced approach towards their children, ensuring a healthy and optimal family environment.
The parents of children with special needs face more difficulties compared to the parents of healthy children, especially in taking the decision whether or not to have a second child. They ponder upon the time and the energy that raising a second child would require, upon the possible distribution of the available resources between the two kids, upon the family’s financial prospects in view of the higher expenses needed for their disabled child, and upon the support, which the second child may provide to the special-needs one during childhood and at the time when the parents would no longer be able to take care of him. Often the parents of a special-needs kid delay having a second one at least until the time when their disabled child has achieved a larger degree of independence. According to statistical data, 20% fewer families decide to have a second child, when their first-born one is disabled, compared to the families, having a healthy first-born child. At the same time for families of disabled children, the presence of a healthy child is an important indicator of the quality of life and of the development of their disabled child. The analysis of these two aspects is essential in Bulgaria, where the number of people with disabilities exceeds 600,000 (above 8% of the population), according to data from the National Statistical Office, the National Center of Public Health and Analyses, and the Agency for People with Disabilities. More than 10% of the people with disabilities are aged below 18. Some 50,000 families have at least one special-needs child, according to information from members and supporters of our Foundation. These statistics appear in the backdrop of the alarming demographic crisis in our country, which saw population numbers shrink by more than 6% in the period 2005 – 2013, and the proportion of children – by more than 7pps. That is why Foundation “Kids with Developmental Problems” considers initiating a debate and establishing a PHP platform to support families of children with special needs to have a second child and to implement a balanced approach towards their children, ensuring healthy and optimal family environment, to be matters of utmost importance.
It is well known that parents face a wide range of difficulties in finding and implementing a balanced approach towards their children when one of the siblings has special needs. The problem is even more underpinned in Bulgaria where finding support towards achieving optimal family environment for the kids is especially challenging in the context of the serious demographic crisis. There are numerous initiatives aiming at improving the quality of life of people with disabilities, and more specifically, of children with disabilities, but the issues concerning finding a balanced approach towards healthy and special-needs siblings and encouraging families of a first-born child with a disability to have a second child, require an in-depth analysis and recommendations in the Bulgarian context. These issues have not been addressed so far at the institutional level, or by the structures of the civil society.