The minimum package of services
Children grow up in their families and with easy access to education and medical treatment, ensures the best chance to be prepared for the future.
Romania is home to almost 4 million children. The country has made remarkable progress in the past 20 years, yet poverty, a lack of medical services at the local level and inadequate education still affect too many of them.
- Half are at risk of childhood poverty and social exclusion and nearly 1 in 4 suffer from severe material deprivation. (Eurostat 2017).
- 400,000 children are out of school, drastically limiting their chances to get employment when they grow up (2017 UNICEF study).
- 60,000 are separated from their families, mostly as a consequence of poverty, violence or abandonment.
- Every year, 10,000 children are separated from their parents.
- One in 10 mothers-to-be is a teenager.
- One million children are hospitalized every year. These expensive hospital stays could be avoided through local primary health services.
- More than 15,000 cases of child abuse, neglect and exploitation were reported in 2017 (National Authority for Child Protection and Adoption statistics).
Children from poor families, Roma communities, rural areas or disabled children are most vulnerable.
According to a UNICEF study, an extra year of school increases incomes by 8-9%, reduces the risk of becoming unemployed by 8% and the risk of serious health problems by 8.2%.
All children have the right to healthcare, social protection and quality education.
Social exclusion, meaning a lack of access to employment, health or education services, is caused by complex factors and affects families or communities for generations. Examples include insufficient or inadequate allocation of resources; inadequate norms, standards, tools and methodologies; and the insufficient cooperation between health, education, social and child protection systems.
The challenge is to act to prevent harm rather than only helping children already hurt – the key is to have a local system in place to detect, prevent and respond to vulnerabilities.
UNICEF and Romania have joined forces to offer a workable solution that:
- is mostly uses resources already available in the community;
- can be easily reproduced anywhere in Romania;
- is cost efficient and effective.
We carefully chose 45 communities in the county of Bacău, where local authorities and partners, with funds from Norway Grants and UNICEF, launched a pilot project in 2014: Community-based Services for Children. It aims for all children in Romania to be more protected, healthier and more educated - having access to integrated services in their communities.
As of 2017, our work continues with funding from Botnar Foundation and UNICEF’s regular resources.
The program has two components: 1.) the Minimum Package of Services and 2.) the Quality Inclusive Education, both providing access to a range of services.
The Minimum Package of Services (MPS) provides integrated access to healthcare, social protection and education. These can prevent, at a fraction of the cost, many of the issues affecting the most vulnerable children and their families: separation, lack of minimum welfare payments, violence, early pregnancies, illness, school dropout or absenteeism.
For these services to reach the families, a social worker, a community nurse and a school councilor work jointly in the communities. They go from door to door and identify the needs of every household. This information is collected through an innovative online tool called Aurora, which helps to use the data to identify solutions, offer direct counselling and information.
The support these professionals provide has made a big difference. Countless children have stayed healthy, were not separated from their parents, and have stayed in school.
The three community workers collaborate with local stakeholders such as the mayoralties, NGOs and other community members to form a strong web of partners. In Roma communities two more actors are involved: a school mediator and a medical mediator to offer even more targeted services.
Our work in the 45 communities in Bacău has been independently evaluated every year and has proven to provide tangible results for tens of thousands of children, their families and communities.
These services can now be scaled up nationally to the benefit of all children in Romania. The costs are only 100 euros per child, per year. Investing in children means not only realizing their rights but also investing in their future.