A recent UNICEF report The Social Monitor: Social Protection for Child Rights and Wellbeing in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia calls for an enhanced investment in more effective social protection which can have significant benefits for most disadvantaged children in these societies. Through an extensive amount of recent evidence on changing trends in child poverty and the benefits of social protection for children, the report proposes key steps for successful implementation and improvement of effective social protection measures.
Some key findings include:
- Cash benefits in the region are increasingly reaching children and families who need them. However, too many children in need are still not covered, especially if they come from disadvantaged groups. Among the most vulnerable and discriminated are children with disabilities, children from ethnic and linguistic minorities, and children affected by migration.
- What children and families receive, in most countries and territories of the region, is not making a difference in their lives.
- Parents with low incomes or without a job do not get quality social support to help them deal with family conflicts or connect with available benefits and services, including training and employment opportunities.
- Countries that spend and focus more of their social protection for children and families are the most successful at reducing child poverty,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe.
Key recommendations proposed in the report include:
- Simplify application procedures to available cash assistance and social support.
- Inform children and families about the social protection benefits and expand coverage for the most vulnerable.
- Ensure that cash assistance is enough to make a difference for children.
- Provide qualified social support to parents to cope with job loses or economic shocks.
- Link different support services available so that vulnerable children get quality education, nutrition and health care, and live in a caring and protective family environment.
- Monitor and analyze if the support provided improves children’s lives
- Address discrimination towards families and children recipients of social protection through legislative changes, comprehensive awareness campaigns, and training of service providers.