In Focus: Ending Child Poverty
Promoting social protection to tackle child poverty
Across the Europe and Central Asia Region, regardless of national wealth, too many children are living in monetary poverty and many are growing up without the basic means they need to grow, learn and stay safe. The evidence is clear. Monetary poverty is closely linked to a range of serious risks for individuals and societies. Above all, poverty is a violation of children’s rights, stifling their potential. Poverty hurts children’s cognitive development and, in turn, leads to lower income and health in adulthood.
Young children are slower to develop reading skills when households cannot afford books, toys and learning materials. And the chronic stress of growing up poor appears to have a direct impact on the brain: the longer children live in poverty, the greater their levels of stress and the greater the impact.
The available data suggest that more than 22 million children are living in poverty in the Region. Their age and their dependence on adults leave them far more vulnerable to the impact of poverty, with potentially lifelong consequences. At the same time, national social protection programmes – such as child benefits – are not adequately addressing child poverty because of limited coverage and the limited amount provided per family.
UNICEF and its partners (including the World Bank and European Union) are contributing to the Region’s poverty reduction efforts by:
- Supporting reinforced policies to tackle child poverty.
- Providing quality and accessible services for the most deprived children.
- Providing a minimum income for families with children.
- Ensuring that financial barriers do not stop children from reaching their full potential.