This Children’s Day, keep children first in line for investment and last in line for cuts

01 June 2022
Children during World Children's Day 2021

Like many places around the world, children in Kosovo have not been spared the indirect impact of the war in Ukraine. Poverty was already a harsh reality for many, with an estimated 23 per cent of children living in poverty, including more than 7 per cent living in extreme poverty, before the regional crisis. We know that the significant increases in food and energy prices are now hitting these families hardest.

At the same time, children worldwide are still coping with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is reversing decades of progress on access to health, education and nutrition services as well as threatening the mental well-being of children and parents.  Global learning losses due to the pandemic have been staggering, with school closures leaving up to 70 per cent of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries unable to read or understand a simple text, up from 53 per cent pre-pandemic. The pandemic has also increased child poverty and entrenched inequality. 100 million additional children are estimated to now be living in multidimensional poverty because of the pandemic, a 10 per cent increase since 2019. UNICEF research warns that even in a best-case scenario, it will take seven to eight years to recover and return to pre-COVID child poverty levels.

In this context, UNICEF recognizes the efforts of Kosovo institutions in driving policy reforms for sustainable and inclusive economic development. These reforms have been coupled with increased investments in children, families and young people, including the introduction of a universal child benefit and an extended maternity benefit to unemployed women as part of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency response package, the allocation of 20 million euros to promote skills development and employment for young people, the provision of funding for an additional 300 teacher assistants for children with disabilities, and the approval of additional financing for the Ministry of Health’s Home Visiting Programme for new babies and young mothers.

We call on the authorities to maintain, and even increase, these investments in children, and ask them to ensure that policy responses to the emerging macroeconomic challenges protect essential social services and the poorest children and families. Specifically, we urge them to accelerate reform of the Social Assistance Scheme to improve the poverty-reducing impact of these payments, especially for families with larger numbers of children. Particularly in uncertain economic times, delivery of cash transfers and the universalization of child benefits are critical investments that can lift families out of economic distress and help them prepare for future shocks.

We also encourage the Parliament to adopt the draft Law on Early Childhood Education, which should include recognition of community-based early childhood development centers as key service providers. This law sets the policy and regulatory foundation for a rapid expansion of early childhood education, which currently reaches only 15 per cent of 3- to 4-year-old children in Kosovo. Inclusive scale-up of these services is critical to enhance school readiness and ensure the most vulnerable young children get a fair start in life.  

We ask the authorities to accelerate implementation of the 2020 Law on Child Protection, including approval of the required administrative instructions which will establish the necessary mechanisms and resources to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, and neglect. 

Finally, we call on the Parliament to adopt the draft Law on Local Finances, which foresees the creation of a Specific Grant for Social Services. This new funding for social services at municipal level is critical to protect the most vulnerable children, ensuring social workers can sustainably and systematically reach at-risk families with quality social services.

Given the looming global economic crisis, growing regional conflicts, and the worsening climate emergency, a child-first approach has never been more critical.  As we work together with governments, development partners, civil society, and the private sector to chart our collective path through uncertain times, we must keep children first in line for investment and last in line for cuts. The promise of our future is set in the priorities we make in our present.

Media contacts

Dafina Zuna
Head of Communications
UNICEF Kosovo Programme


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.

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