Child poverty reduction should be prioritized as COVID-19 pandemic unfolds - UNICEF together with the Ministry of Social Policy launched Child Poverty Report
Children in Ukraine are more likely to live in poverty than adults as the poverty rate among families with children is higher than in families without children (47% versus 34%, respectively as of 2019). Poverty rates are highest in large families (with three or more children) and children in the youngest age groups — under 3 years of age — are the most affected by monetary poverty. Such findings are outlined in the Child Poverty Report, launched by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ptoukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies (of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) together with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.
At the same time, national programs supporting family with children have significant impact on reducing child poverty. According to the analytical brief complementing the report, social assistance programs had a significant impact on poverty reduction during the pandemic – ensuring that 1.1 million people stayed above the poverty line. Child benefits helped to prevent 149 thousand children from falling into poverty.
“We understood that families with children were at the highest risk of poverty during the pandemic and quarantine restrictions. Therefore, we paid special attention to targeted programs for such families.
We provided assistance to children of individual entrepreneurs who were forced to end businesses due to lockdown, increased consumption of subsidized utilities, including the opportunity for distance learning for children.
Assistance to low-income families was increased by 80%. Until July 1, 2020, the amount of child benefits for such families covered 85% of the subsistence minimum level; now we pay 130% for each child. About 300,000 families received such assistance.
By supporting family-based parenting, we have increased assistance to children in foster care. The growth was up to 75%. Currently, the state social assistance for children under guardianship or custody is 2.5 subsistence minimums, and 3.5 subsistence minimums for children with disabilities.
In order to lift low-income families out of the poverty trap and turn benefit recipients into self-sufficient tax-paying families, we have introduced a program to help unemployed low-income families start their own businesses with a state support.
A very important direction in overcoming child poverty is development of social services for families in communities. We paid a lot of attention to this. In 2020, more than 7,000 families with almost 15,000 children were at risk of having their children taken away. And for me personally, the important result is that these families received the social services they needed after an individual needs assessment. And this made it possible to ensure that 14 thousand children stayed in families, which is 93%. These children will now have a better future", says Maryna Lazebna, Minister of Social Policy in Ukraine.
Children make up about one fifth of Ukraine’s population, therefore it is not possible to overcome or substantially reduce overall poverty in the country without child poverty being addressed. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the current state of child poverty, including monetary and multidimensional deprivations, and based on the latest available data presents inequality trends.
Child poverty also needs to be understood against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many households lose their income, more children are likely to be deprived of their basic needs. However, child poverty is a problem that can be resolved. In the report UNICEF formulates ten recommendations which could help to reduce child poverty.
“All children have the right to a standard of living that ensures their full development. UNICEF will continue supporting Partners efforts to better understand the causes and consequences of poverty on the development of children. We will expand our technical support for effective response in social protection and efforts to track and monitor progress on poverty reduction for every child,” says Murat Sahin, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
UNICEF in Ukraine
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