At the end of September 2022, 27,728 Romanian children benefited from the services of day care centers to prevent the child from being separated from the family. Only 6,162 of these children were assisted in day care centers of local councils, given that, in Romania, 20.3% of families with children live in persistent poverty, the percentage rising dramatically to 33.7% (the most recent data, for the year 2021) in the case of single-parent families, says Save the Children Romania.
The organization welcomes the efforts of the authorities for the development and adoption of a complex legislative framework, through the Draft Law on the organization of the activity to prevent the separation of the child from the family, but, in order for the services intended to protect these children to be effective, it recommends that the funding granted to local social assistance services (SPAS) to remain equal and non-discriminatory, given that 66% of the public social assistance services included in an extensive control action did not have positions filled by personnel with specialized studies in social assistance, social assistance duties being fulfilled by different categories of employees by the amount of attributions (data from the recent ANPIS report).
Thus, Save the Children Romania addressed to the Commission for Work and Social Protection and the Commission for Health and Family in the Chamber of Deputies the request to amend the article in the text of the law, which proposes to reduce funding for local public administration authorities that do not have children with special protection measures, established under the law.
“On the one hand, the presence of children with a special protection measure on the territory of the administrative-territorial unit does not in any way influence the costs necessary for the operation of the day care centers intended to prevent the separation of the child from the family, so reducing the financial contribution from the state budget would only do have a negative impact on the capacity of local authorities to respond to the needs of all vulnerable children. On the other hand, there is a risk that, in order to avoid this reduction in funding from the state budget, local authorities will not make every effort to properly support the identification and referral of those situations where the real risks to which certain children are exposed requires in response the establishment of a special protection measure. Beyond the relatively short term in which the SPAS have the obligation to identify and register in the local Child Observatory all children in the territorial administrative unit at risk of separation (one year, of which four months, 120 days, are allocated elaboration by the Government of the changes necessary to be made to the methodological framework), special attention must be paid to the development of the capacity and resources available at the SPAS level”, reports Salvaţi Copiii Romania.
“Children living at risk of severe poverty need real support so that socio-economic vulnerability does not turn into school dropout, and health risks are prevented through adequate nutrition. Families living below the poverty line must become a priority of an integrated plan of social policies, in which local authorities receive non-discriminatory funding, so that the support reaches the real beneficiaries, whose social needs are thus solved”, argued Gabriela Alexandrescu, Executive President of Save the Children Romania.
Practically, 41.5% of Romanian children grow up at risk of poverty or social exclusion, almost double the EU average (24.4%), according to Eurostat data valid for 2021.
The risk of monetary poverty affects 29.8% of children, and persistent poverty (being below the poverty line in the reference year and at least two previous years) disproportionately affects families with children (in Romania, for 2021, 14.5 % of families without children were in persistent poverty, but the percentage rises to 20.3% in the case of families with children and reaches 33.7% in the case of single-parent families).
More than a quarter of Romanian children (28.2%) face severe material deprivation, our country holding an undesirable first place at the level of the European Union (the EU average for this indicator is 7.5%, according to Eurostat data, valid for 2021 ).
In a single year (2021, Eurostat), more than 8,000 girls gave birth in Romania before the age of majority (8024); 745 of them became mothers before their 15th birthday.
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