One year after the global economic crisis of 2008/09, Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States had been hit the hardest relative to other regions. In all the countries of the region for which data is available poverty disproportionately affects children.
The present paper argues that social protection is needed to mitigate the lasting effects of the economic crisis in the whole region, as well as the additional strains on households due to the Eurozone crisis, high unemployment, and recurring food/fuel price spikes. Existing social protection systems in the region need urgent reform: programmes for children need to reach more vulnerable families, provide higher allocations, and offer additional support services beyond cash.
Concrete immediate reforms in CEECIS might include using existing fiscal space to raise benefit levels, launch outreach campaigns, and issue moratoriums on fees for supporting documentation required by benefit applications – an underestimated barrier to access. Systemic reforms in social protection and other sectors of social policy will need to take place as well. These reforms may include: creating child-focused cash benefits, strengthening internal monitoring and accountability mechanisms, ensuring the coordination of policies across ministries, building effective linkages between programmes, distributing resources among regions equitably, and implementing progressive tax and spending policies.