Generating evidence on the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on children and families in Croatia
Key findings from the COVID-19 Assessment tools
The first case of COVID-19 in Croatia was reported on February 25 and, a few weeks later, school-aged children were requested to stay home and engaged in TV/on-line schooling organized by the Ministry of Science and Education. In the early morning of March 22, the first Sunday after schools and almost everything else in the country closed, an earthquake shook the capital of Croatia, and caused panic, terrible material damage in the city centre and the loss of a child’s life.
During this hectic period, UNICEF and its partners boosted the support offered to the Government, striving to stop the transmission of the virus, mitigating the overflowing crisis in the education and health sectors, in child protection and social services, caring for the most vulnerable groups of children and families.
As the pandemic seemed to lose its momentum, schools reopened in early May. To be able to provide evidence-based support to the Government, UNICEF initiated a survey of the socio-economic effects of Covid-19 on children and families, knowing that the real crisis was yet to come. The survey aimed to gather data related to the socio-economic position of households with children, the availability of services for children (healthcare, education, social protection, child protection), the coping mechanisms of parents / guardians and their influence on the child's well-being, as well as indications on how the situation of children with disabilities and/or special educational needs differs from other children.
The survey, carried out in July and August, took place via CATI and online interviews. The sample of 1,500 households with children, is representative across region and settlement size, as well as three age groups (0-6, 7-12, 13-17). In addition, a subsample of 150 households with children with disabilities or special educational needs, 50 in each age group, were surveyed. Additional data collection is envisaged (Q4 2020, Q1 2021).
First wave results show that 5.2% of primary caregivers were faced with job or income loss, while an additional 4.5% expected a job or income loss within the next month. A total of 41% of employed caregivers reported income reductions, and the situation at the household level was very difficult: 51% households with children were challenged with income reduction. In addition, unexpected costs occurred in 33% of households, mostly related to purchasing of hygiene items. Material deprivation was more significantly reported in households with children with disabilities; almost all (97%) respondents stated that their children had access to distance learning, but 46% believed that parenting was more difficult than before the pandemic.
UNICEF joined efforts with the World Bank in delivering recommendations and policy briefs to the Government. The World Bank also implemented a survey with a slightly different focus, on the impact of COVID-19, its effects on economy constrains and income reduction related issues.
Government counterparts find it critical to inform their efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic across sectors, as well as for channelling funding for future policies and programmes. The complementarity of UNICEF and World Bank’s data guarantees robust evidence for future programming.
UNICEF will continue to support the Government's efforts in combating the spread of the virus, knowledge generation, and mitigating the impact of the outbreak on families’ safety, employment and access to services.