Social policy programme

UNICEF focuses on the critical impact social and economic policy have on children.



Children in Ukraine account for 18 percent of the population, but 45 percent of the poor. Poverty has lifelong consequences for children: a child living in poverty is more likely to be poor as an adult. Much of the deprivation experienced by the most disadvantaged children in Ukraine goes beyond poverty, but is linked to having disabilities, being girls or belonging to minorities.

Despite relatively high government spending on social safety nets (4.9 percent of GDP) coverage of the poorest and adequacy of benefits are insufficient. This is mainly because Ukraine’s social protection system is a combination of welfare programmes inherited from the Soviet Union and many additional benefits that are predominantly categorical, fragmented, often with overlapping objectives and poorly adapted to current needs.

Ukraine initiated decentralization reform in 2015 to make government more accountable to the population and ensure that needs are met, and rights fulfilled in this large and diverse country. While power is being shifted downwards, newly formed local authorities are receiving greater responsibilities for service delivery, and often higher budgets. However, decentralization has also brought numerous challenges and conflicting priorities. For example, local authorities generally prioritize economic affairs (such as roads and utilities), over social services (social protection and health).

For any country, investing in children, including child-sensitive social protection is crucial. Effective social welfare mitigates effects of poverty, strengthens families in their child care role, and enhances access to basic services for the poorest and most marginalized. Fundamentally, providing adequate investments to enable children to thrive is a moral imperative.  Investing in children also has the potential to benefit their families, their communities and yield positive benefits to economies and societies as a whole.


UNICEF’s social policy programme focuses on promoting equity for children and improved social welfare through advocacy and technical support to the Government of Ukraine in four areas:


1. Poverty reduction and macro policies for children

This component addresses the drivers of poverty and social exclusion across core domains of children’s lives through tailored analytical support and advocacy. The focus is on improved approaches to measuring child poverty, including the multidimensional aspects of child poverty. Another aim is to keep children at the forefront of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy and to promote child-centred family policies.

2. Social protection with a focus on integrated modalities

The component is intended to improve the performance of cash transfers in reducing poverty among vulnerable children and their families, including displaced children, and to broaden the social protection system beyond cash transfers by strengthening locally driven intersectoral approaches, ccase management and local social service provision.

3. Public finance for children

UNICEF is working closely with line ministries and the Ministry of Finance to maximize the impact of public expenditure on children, and to provide sound evidence to ensure that children’s rights are considered a priority in results-based budgeting and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework.

4. Local governance and accountability with focus on Child-Friendly Cities

While implementing Child and Youth Friendly Municipality global initiative, UNICEF Ukraine is working with partners to realize the rights of children through local commitment and investment. The initiative promotes healthy competition among municipalities in their efforts to close equity gaps and place children at the forefront of their agendas. In 2018 more than 160 municipalities joined the Initiative, and 22 received technical support from UNICEF, of which 15 have been granted candidate status.