Child benefits support children in need though many are deprived of crucial services, new Child Welfare Survey says
UNICEF is supporting the Government to monitor child welfare in Georgia, through systematically conducting high-quality studies to assess the situation and recommend solutions to the challenges
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TBILISI, Georgia, 20 April 2023 – Thirty eight per cent of children in Georgia are affected by material and social deprivations, reveals the Child Welfare Survey conducted by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) with support from UNICEF. The purpose of the survey was to measure children’s welfare in several core domains, including access to education, healthcare and social assistance, nutrition during school hours, safety at home, material and social deprivation, functional difficulties and stigma associated with disability.
In the past few years, the Government of Georgia has substantially increased the number of children reached and the amount received under the child benefit programme, which covers 29 per cent of all children under the age of 16 in the country in 2022. However, almost half of materially deprived children (47 per cent) do not benefit from the programme supposably due to fact that families do not meet the criteria of the child benefit programme.
There is a growing consensus among child rights advocates, policy makers and practitioners that monetary measures of poverty are not sufficient for capturing the deprivations that children experience, which has adverse effects on their development and future life chances. A multidimensional measure called child material and social deprivation index was developed that examines 16 necessities, at either the child or household level. A child is considered to be deprived if, due to lack of financial resources, the family cannot provide her/him with at least three of the 16 necessities.
The survey found:
- 28 per cent of preschool aged children did not attend kindergarten, with 22 per cent of children not attending based on parent’s choice and six per cent unable to attend due to barriers. The most common barriers are absence of preschool services in some rural areas and placements on waiting lists.
- 98 per cent of children 6-17 years of age attended school, university and/or vocational education during 2021-2022 school year and up to 2 per cent of children were not in the education system.
- Private tutoring is used by 19 per cent of 6–17-year-old children, and an equal share is willing but unable to benefit from this service. The most common barrier to private tutoring is lack of finances, mentioned in 87 per cent of cases.
- Lack of educational materials is widespread, with 45 per cent of children not having at least one educational item they would like to have but cannot afford. The educational items children lack the most often are laptops/computers (29 per cent), followed by painting materials, books and musical instruments.
- Vast majority of parents are satisfied with preschool and school education as well as health care services.
- Nutrition during school hours is a major challenge as only a little more than a quarter of children (27 per cent) eat every day during school hours and more than a third of children (35 per cent) never eat during school hours. Not eating during school hours is much more common among materially deprived children (45 per cent) than among non-deprived children (28 per cent). The absence of food vendors in the vicinity is a major barrier, mentioned in 36 per cent of cases. Financial barriers are also mentioned as the main reason in case of materially deprived children who do not eat at all during school hours.
- 12 per cent of children were unable to receive required medical treatment (either fully or partially) and 5 per cent did not receive a required medication. In both cases the main barriers were financial.
- Parents/family members of 62 per cent of children reported that they use only non-violent methods of disciplining children. Psychological aggression, such as shouting and calling derogative names was reported in case of 29 per cent of children and 5 per cent of children were reported to be subjected to physical punishment. Below one per cent of children suffer from severe physical punishments, such as being beaten with all strength.
In all dimensions of child welfare, the analysis revealed inequalities between different groups of children. Children living in rural areas are more than seven times more likely to lack access to preschool education than urban children. Compared to children without functional difficulties, children with functional difficulties are almost four times more likely to lack access to an essential medical care and more than twice as likely not to receive a required medication. Boys are 46 per cent more likely to be subjected to violent methods of upbringing, while girls are almost 2.5 times more likely to lack access to extracurricular arts activities. However, the most profound inequalities that are evident in all dimensions of child welfare stem from material deprivation. Accordingly, tackling these inequalities is key to improving child welfare in Georgia.
The survey was conducted in July-September 2022 with an overarching aim of collecting data on multiple dimensions of child welfare in Georgia. The survey involved interviewing 1,279 respondents who provided information on 2,438 children living in their households. The survey results are representative of children living in Georgia.
The study findings will inform policy makers to introduce further changes for strengthening social protection, health and education systems in the country.
The survey is available here: https://uni.cf/3mINtFH
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/