Bulgarian National Help-line for Children

The Bulgarian National Helpline for Children offers information, counseling and help to children for a huge spectrum of problems. It uses harmonized European number 116 111 functions through a call-center at the State Agency for Child Protection (SACP). The Helpline is financed and monitored by SACP and is currently run by the Animus Association Foundation after winning the national competition opened by SACP under the Public Procurement Act to provide the service of a National Hotline for Children 116 111. The Helpline has coverage all over the country and is free of charge for all callers from Bulgaria. Its service is offered on 24-hour basis. The target groups of the Helpline are children and adolescents, their parents, relatives, other adults who are concerned for the problems of a child. A team of specially trained counselors answer the calls on the Helpline and help the callers by offering emotional support, space for sharing freely about their hard feelings and sources of difficulties, crisis intervention, information about the available resources and ways of dealing with various problems. In the year 2010 a total of 13, 695 consultations were made; their number reached 17368 in the year 2011. Most often the children and adolescents have sought the help of the National Helpline in relation to emotional and psychosocial problems (relationships with peers, romantic relationships, anxiety, low self-esteem, communication problems); information seeking (about the Helpline – how it works, what it offers – or about the available resources for kids and families in the community); child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual); family issues (conflicts between kids and parents, sibling relations); school problems (low grades, conflicts with teachers). The Helpline also has the goal of identifying at-risk children and referring such cases to the child protection services quickly and effectively (most often, the Child protection units and the Police) and also of providing both children and concerned adults with the opportunity to give signals for at-risk children, which is especially important for those of them who have no direct access to the child protection services due to location, financial or social limitations.