Romanian children need serious and immediate attention; 10 solutions to improve the situation of children in Romania
Priority investments in children put forward by the National Council of Students, the Children's Board and UNICEF
BUCHAREST, August 27, 2020. In the context of local and parliamentary elections, the reopening of schools, as well as the development of new national strategies for the period 2021-2027, the National Council of Students (CNE), the Romanian Children's Board and UNICEF propose to the Romanian authorities a set of ten solutions to improve the condition of children, during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic put the already disadvantaged children and their families in an even more vulnerable situation. 35,8% of Romania's 3,7 million children are at risk of poverty and social exclusion. 400,000 school aged children are out of school, and over 50,000 children are separated from their families, mostly due to poverty, violence or abandonment.
- Investments for children and Romania’s future
- ‘Children first’ and ‘Leave no child behind’ principles in all national plans, strategies and programmes
- Establish a permanent ministerial coordination group for children
- Extend the Minimum Package of Services to all children in Romania
- Develop Integrated Community Services Centers
- Develop online learning materials and capacities and ensure access to all children
- Improve preventive health care services, including immunization
- Strengthen availability of quality disaggregated data and information on the situation of children
- Establish concrete mechanisms for child participation in policy and decision making
- All cities and municipalities to become child friendly
A first solution is to invest in children, for the future of Romania. Authorities are urged to use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to address the structural problems that children are facing, which worsened during the crisis. An example would be the allocation of 10% of European Structural Funds for projects dedicated to children and the use of European Structural Funds for integrated social services from a single source of funding and not in a competitive manner.
Secondly, UNICEF recommends including the principles of "children first" and "leave no children behind" in all strategies, national plans and programs to be developed and implemented.
A third measure is creating a permanent ministerial coordination group, under the leadership of the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, for a better integration of the strategies and sectorial programs, as well as the policies at national and European level.
"The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made even more vulnerable those who were already facing the biggest problems. The analyses carried out by UNICEF and its partners, including the rapid assessment of the situation of children and families, with a focus on vulnerable groups, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, show us that we are at a critical point regarding the future of Romania's children. We can overcome it, using this opportunity to solve, once and for all, the chronic problems we have struggled with for decades,” said Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
The scaling up of the Minimum Service Package, successfully tested by UNICEF in 45 communities in Bacău County, at national level, is another proposal. Each community would thus benefit from a community nurse, a social worker and a school counsellor.
UNICEF's proposed solutions also include the development of centers for integrated community services, with both physical and digital access to inclusive information and services, including specialized services for children with disabilities, but also the development of online learning materials and capacity, also through guidance / training of teachers and parents to ensure that the most vulnerable children have access to quality inclusive education.
"We can choose to see this pandemic as an opportunity to rebuild the whole of society in a sustainable way that leaves no one behind. Throughout this process, children and young people must play a key role, because our perspective is truly innovative. It is the duty of the authorities to implement real consultation mechanisms for children and young people. It is time to rethink the educational system, offering students the opportunity to customize their educational path, depending on their needs and interests. We, the children and young people of today, the adults of tomorrow, have the right to be part of the fundamental change of the society in which we live”, said Rareș Voicu, president of the National Council of Students.
Improving prevention medical services, consolidating the existence of quality disaggregated data and information on the situation of children in Romania and establishing concrete mechanisms for children's participation in policy development and decision-making in accordance with the Bucharest Declaration of Children in the EU adopted last year are other solutions proposed by UNICEF, CNE and the Children's Board.
"The pandemic caused an imbalance in the daily life we are all used to, forcing us to adapt to a major change - the online education system. I had a lot to learn. From how to turn on a microphone to the use of new platforms. We were happy to see our colleagues even if only virtually, to be able to smile or to encourage ourselves that everything will soon return to the normalcy we knew. But there are thousands of children who could neither be happy with these nor have anyone to thank. We want to be involved and help. We want to be given the opportunity to help", said Ilinca-Simina Murărașu, member of the Children's Board.
CNE, the Children's Board and UNICEF also urge the authorities to take action to make all cities and municipalities child-friendly, providing good governance for all children, accessible services with children at the heart of the process and the mechanisms of planning designing and accountability.
About the National Council of Students
The National Council of Students is the representative structure of all students in Romania, which advocates for the observance of their rights, as well as for a quality educational system, focused on the direct beneficiaries of the education system.
Through the organizational framework of the National Council of Students, students can choose their representatives based on the principle of legitimacy, can formulate their specific views and can develop proposals for improving the quality of school life.
About the Children's Board
Founded in 2019, the Romanian Children's Board is a group of children of different ages, from all over the country, coming from family backgrounds and the child protection system, with different ethnic backgrounds and with a varied experience in the field of representation. For most of them, it is the first time their voice reaches decision makers. For more information about the Children's Board, visit http://unicef.org/romania/ro/boardul-copiilor-2020.
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.