Romania registered in 2014 the highest rate of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. With 51 percent of children aged 18 years and below who don’t have proper access to education, healthcare, housing or food, our country has overturned Bulgaria from the first spot.
The ONU Convention on children’s rights states that all children should have guaranteed access to these life sustaining services. However, in the EU 26 million children were at the risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2014, a share of 27.7 percent of the total of children in the bloc.
The distribution across countries varies greatly, with Romania, Bulgaria (45.2 percent), Hungary (41.4 percent) and Greece (36.7) leading the ranks among member states for which data were available. The lowest rates were seen in Sweden (16.7 percent), Finland (15.6) and Denmark (14.5).
When it comes to access to education, conditions have worsened for Romanian children, according to Unicef’s Innocenti Report Card. The share of youth not in education, employment or training (NEET) leaped from 11.6 percent in 2008 to 17.2 percent in 2013 (17 percent in 2013 and 2014 according to Eurostat). In countries such as Croatia and Greece, the deterioration in the circumstances of youth went hand in hand with an increase in child poverty, but there does not appear to be a strong relationship between the two. Iceland mitigated a rise in the NEET rate despite a dramatic increase in child poverty, while Romania saw the NEET rate rise even as child poverty fell.
A report by Save the Children Romania showed that the budget spent for education has suffered a dramatic drop between 2008 and 2014, when looking at the total sum allocated from the consolidated budget. While in 2008 education was allotted 11.5 percent of the total budget, in 2014 it fell to a 9.2 percent slice, which meant a fall from RON 364 per beneficiary in 2008 to RON 139 in 2014.
The same report states that Romania’s public expenses in healthcare, expressed as a percent of the GDP, is at about half the median in the EU bloc, while the infrastructure of healthcare units addressing especially children had a negative evolution between 2008 and 2014, with pediatrics lacking in bed numbers and school clinics being severely outnumbered by the student population.
Seeing as one in four children in the European bloc are at risk of poverty, the EU Parliament adopted a resolution for its member states to make children a priority in their policies and increase the effectiveness, quantity, amounts and scope of the social support specifically directed at children, while also addressing the position of women taking care of children. Among other recommendations from the EU officials were a stronger focus on prevention of school drop-out and social inequality, universal welfare benefits targeting children adopted by all member states and more transparent budgets on expenses viewing the combat or prevention of poverty among children.