Keeping families together

Making social protection more effective for children


Date of publication:  01 Jan 2012 Authors:  Peroline Ainsworth Publisher:  UN Children's Fund (UNICEF)

This edition of Insights: Child Rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia analyses the effectiveness of the social protection systems for children in Central and Eastern European countries and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS).

One indicator of the effectiveness of a social protection system is its capacity to support
vulnerable families to take care of their children at home. In these countries, the rates of children living in formal care or separated from their parents is tremendously high: 1.3 million. Around half of them grow up in large scale residential care institutions which risks harming their health, development and future life chances. This suggests that existing social protection systems are failing to give vulnerable families the support they need to prevent the kinds of crises that lead to a child being placed in alternative care. 

UNICEF urges governments to take immediate action to support these families by improving social
protection so that it reaches out to and has an impact on those who need it most, including families
at risk of disintegration.

The article summarises findings and recommendations of studies on the impact and outreach of social protection systems in Albania, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, which all operate social assistance programmes and are in the process of establishing social services. The research offers important insight into the weaknesses of and challenges faced by social protection systems in the region. These countries also provide examples of good practice that point to ways in which policy-makers might maximise the impacts of social protection systems.

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Central Europe
Eastern Europe and Baltic States

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