Legislative initiative through which all Children of Romania could benefit from a Minimum Service Package
Bucharest, December 9, 2019. UNICEF announces the submission to the Senate of Romania of a legislative initiative to supplement the Law on social assistance no. 292/2011, through which all children in Romania and their families, but especially the most vulnerable, will have access to a Minimal Package of Service - protection, health and education - in the communities in which they live. The solution, already tested by UNICEF, uses community-wide resources, is easy to implement on a large scale and is cost-effective.
The minimum service package will be able to provide children and their families with a universal set of basic preventive services, integrated at the community level and coordinated and supervised at the county and national level. Through this proposal, they bring together all the services that children need in order to grow healthy with their families and to develop themselves free from any form of violence. The initiative focuses on prevention services that are much cheaper and beneficial for the child and family, but also for the whole society. In each community, a social worker, a medical assistant, and a school counselor will work together to identify and support children and their families. Depending on the needs, in the Roma communities, a school mediator and a health mediator join the team.
About 40% of Romania's 4 million children are exposed to the risk of poverty and social exclusion. 400,000 children are not enrolled in the education system, which drastically limits the chances of future adults to get a job. About 52,000 children are separated from their families, mostly due to poverty, violence or abandonment, and in 2017, over 15,000 cases of child abuse, neglect and exploitation were reported.
"The fight against child poverty and the investment of resources for their development are issues of national importance, which must overcome political differences. I am glad that this bill offers more opportunities for health, protection and education to children in unfavorable situations, using a minimum of support resources from all political parties. Improving the lives of children in Romania is above political opinions and we thank the parliamentarians, from all political parties, who initiated the bill. UNICEF's experience in implementing the Minimum Package of Services project in Bacău County proves that the situation of children is improving rapidly and that the risks they are subject to are significantly reduced when this solution is used ”, said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
The initiators of the law are deputies Marcel Ciolacu (PSD), Adriana Săftoiu (PNL), Gabriela Podașcă (PRO Europe), Senator Cristian Ghica (USR), deputies Ionuț Simionca (PMP), Oana Bîzgan-Gayral (not affiliated), Vass Levente (UDMR) and Varujan Pambuccian (minorities). The legislative initiative is supported by parliamentarians from all political parties.
The minimum package of primary services should consist of:
- information activities that are crucial for identifying potential beneficiaries and for early intervention services;
- needs assessment and planning of services that are based on a family and person based approach;
- information and counseling services aimed at families with social problems, people who have been subjected to domestic violence or neglected, single-parent families with low incomes, as well as young people at risk (such as young offenders, people who drop out of school and children in low-income households) small);
- administrative support (such as the assistance granted to the beneficiaries regarding the filling in the application forms for the different types of benefits), as well as social, medical and legal assistance;
- referral to specialized services;
- monitoring all persons in the community in vulnerable situations and visits to their home.
With funds from Norway Grants, Botnar Foundation and own funds, UNICEF has been testing since 2014 the Minimum Package of Services together with central and local authorities in 45 urban and rural communities in Bacău County with very good results. All children identified without IDs now have documents and are registered with the family doctor, preschoolers go to kindergarten, and school dropout has decreased significantly. 48,200 households were visited during the period the census was conducted and 121,000 people were interviewed. Over 28,000 vulnerable children and pregnant women and mothers benefited from services and as a result 22 vulnerabilities (out of 33) register positive evolution (less cases) after three years of service provision by the project. Following the implementation of the project, the share of children living in poverty-stricken households decreased from 16.8% to 0.4%, the share of unvaccinated children decreased by 40%, and the proportion of adolescent mothers decreased by 50%.
More details about the Minimum Services Package are available here: https://www.unicef.org/romania/en/services-minimum package. A documentary about the pilot project can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4omyALv_ljw&t=315s.
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.