UNICEF in Romania welcomes EU “Child Guarantee” and highlights Romania’s best practices able to facilitate a “Child Guarantee” scale-up for all vulnerable children in the country
BUCHAREST, March 25th, 2021 – UNICEF in Romania welcomes the adoption today of the Child Guarantee, an initiative of the European Commission, which aims to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the European Union have access to healthcare, education, childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition.
Romania’s best practices, experience and tools for providing integrated health, education and social services at community level, including those related to the modelling of the Minimum Package of Services starting with 2015, can facilitate a “Child Guarantee” scale-up for all children in Romania, particularly for the most vulnerable.
Across the EU, one out of every five children is at risk of poverty or social exclusion, which can mark children for the rest of their lives, perpetuating disadvantages and vulnerabilities from one generation to another. In Romania, despite a considerable improvement of the situation of children in the past 30 years, the country has the highest rate for children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, with some population groups far left behind, such as Roma children, children with disabilities and children living in rural areas.
“The ‘Child Guarantee’ is a key initiative highly relevant for Romania, where together with central and local authorities, we have designed and tested a similar innovative solution, the Minimum Package of Services, and where the normative framework incorporating an evidence-based, sustainable and scalable prerequisite for the Child Guarantee has already been adjusted”, said Pieter Bult, the UNICEF Representative in Romania.
The Minimum Package of Services (MPS) is an umbrella concept implemented successfully in 45 communities in the county of Bacău, in partnership with central and local authorities. The programe implied increased access to integrated services in health, nutrition, education, protection at local level, with a special focus on children in precarious family situations, children with disabilities, Roma children.
The MPS contributed in a relatively short period of time to reducing the number of children living in poverty (from 30% to 0.6%) and also prevented or addressed at an early stage, problems such as: violence, early pregnancy, preventable disease, lack of access to cash benefits and school dropout.
An independent evaluation of the MPS interventions showed that: 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 COVID-19 pandemic highlighted once again the need to support children and their families at the community level, early on. We have now the opportunity to reform the system by strengthening the focus of social services (health, education and social assistance) on prevention and building up this part in the system and by making use of opportunities given by EU funding. This will rapidly improve social indicators and children’s lives and result in budgetary savings in a few years.” added Bult.
Following the adoption in October of the amendments at the 292 Law, the Minimum Package of Services (MPS) for children and their families will be extended at national level in every rural and urban communities.
Having tested the MPS with proven results, Romania is in the position to share its good practices and lessons learnt with other EU countries. Using national budgets and EU funds from the national budget, as well as from the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience and from cohesion funds, as well as the opportunity of the new Child Rights Strategy for 2021 – 2027 and the National Strategy for social inclusion and poverty reduction, Romania will be able to prove systemic reforms and results for children.
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.