The Parliament voted: all children will have access to health, education and social/child protection services
UNICEF salutes the adoption by the Romanian Parliament of the amendment at the 292 Law which aims to set up a Minimum Package of Services (MPS) for children and their families in every rural and urban community in Romania.
“The local professionals – social workers, community nurses and school councillors – can make a real difference in the lives of the most vulnerable children and parents helping them to access services in their communities and the financial support offered by the state. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this becomes even more important. With this law, we do prioritize the urgent investment in children’s health, protection and education now, on the short and long term we do save money from the state budget”, declared Marcel Ciolacu, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
The Minimum Package of Services is an integrated model of basic services in health, education, social/ child protection provided at the community level with a special focus on the most vulnerable children and their families. MPS was designed to prevent and address at an early stage, issues such as: violence, poverty, early pregnancy, preventable diseases, lack of access to cash benefits, institutionalization, and school dropout, etc. In most cases, vulnerable children face not just one, but several of these deprivations, underlining the importance of a cross sectoral approach.
"Today I gave an essential vote for the respect of the rights and dignity of every child. The Minimum Package of Services translates into a series of actions that will be undertaken, constantly and coordinated by specialists, in the areas essential for the harmonious development of children. This means that the situation of each child will be monitored by these specialists in the community, who will take all necessary measures to respect the rights of children and their best interests. Moreover, the law we voted for today also meets the needs that children have as a result of the health and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic", said Oana Bîzgan, independent deputy.
MPS requires the presence in each community of at least one social worker, a community nurse and a school counsellor. In the poorest communities, including those with Roma populations, the Minimum Service Package may also include the school mediator and the health mediator. Working in close collaboration, these professionals help vulnerable children and their families, assessing their needs and providing individualized support. They also work with local stakeholders, such as the mayoralty, NGOs and other community partners.
“The COVID-19 pandemic further underlined what we already knew: children and their families need support at the community level, to support their development and protection early on, which translates into less burden on specialised services, such as hospitals and foster care, and ultimately results in more efficient use of tax-payers money. By adopting the amendment at the 292 Law, the Parliament proved that children are a priority and investing in their health, protection and education is the right thing to do for their communities and the entire country”, said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
The amendment at the 292 law is based upon the pilot project tested by UNICEF together with local, regional and national authorities and line ministries since 2015 in 45 rural and urban communities in Bacau county. According to an independent evaluation, MPS contributed to the social inclusion of vulnerable children and their families: all children identified without documents at the beginning of the program now have identity papers and are registered with a family doctor; the number of unvaccinated children decreased by 40%; the number of teenage mothers decreased by 50%; all pre-schoolers are enrolled in kindergarten; school dropout was reduced by 60%; the number of children living in poverty-stricken households has decreased from 29% to less than 1%.
All political parties supported the amendment at the 292 Law from the beginning - PSD, PNL, USR, UDMR, PMP, Pro Romania, being considered a strategic project and a direct investment in the future. In line with the Educated Romania project, the Minimum Package of Services insures social inclusion and access to education for all children, no matter of their environment. Voted today by the Chamber of Deputies, the project awaits to be promulgated by the President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis.
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.