Ivanka Shalapatova - Minister of Labor and Social Policy

Ivanka Shalapatova is a PhD in organization and management of social activities and an internationally recognized expert on early childhood development, social support and protection of children and families. She is a long-time executive director of the foundation "For Our Children" and the first Bulgarian – executive director of the British organization "The European Children's Trust".

Dr. Shalapatova was a Vice-President and a member of the International Organization for Foster Care and a member of the Directors' Board of a network of more than 80 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that participated in the creation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, "Child Rights Connect". She has been recently elected as a member of the Directors’ Board of the international network of NGOs in the field of early childhood development.

As a national expert for Bulgaria, Dr. Ivanka Shalapatova has worked on the creation of a quality framework for early childhood education and care, funded by the structural reforms program of the European Commission. She has been an international consultant for the preparation of a National Strategy for Early Childhood Development in Montenegro, as well as the vice-chairperson of the national working group on early childhood development in Bulgaria. She is a leader and participant in many scientific studies in the social field related to child poverty and social exclusion, policies and practices for workforce development in the field of early childhood development, care for children at risk, etc.

As Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy in the caretaker cabinet in 2013, Dr. Shalapatova led the childcare deinstitutionalization process in Bulgaria. She organized and coordinated the activities of the state in the field of social inclusion, social assistance, and social services, the support of children and families, the integration of people with disabilities, equal opportunities, and anti-discrimination.

Dr. Shalapatova is the holder of several awards: from the President of Bulgaria for her specific contribution in favor of children's rights, from the National Network for Children, etc. She has received a letter of appreciation from the Council of Europe (CoE) for her key role in CoE adopting the new Strategy on Children's Rights.

Dr. Ivanka Shalapatova holds a Master’s Degree in English and Bulgarian Philology with specializations undergone in the UK, Germany, and Hungary. She holds a British Certificate in Organizational Development. In August 2020, she defended her PhD degree with a dissertation on "Implementation of European Union Policies for Early Childhood Education and Care in Bulgaria".