UNICEF and Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) related to the international pilot of the “Child Guarantee” programme

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The Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Josip Aladrović and the Representative of UNICEF CO Croatia, Regina M. Castillo signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), a basic agreement for implementation of a programme to test the implementation of a European “Child Guarantee” in Croatia. 

The ‘Child Guarantee’ is an initiative of the European parliament and European Commission which aims to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the European Union have access to healthcare, education, childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition, ultimately aiming to ensure progressive realisation of child’s rights in Europe. Through the implementation of the “Child Guarantee” programme, the European Commission has made a commitment to breaking the cycle of poverty and social exclusion in Europe.

Croatia is one of the 7 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Spain) in which UNICEF in partnership with the European Commission selected to test the feasibility of the Child Guarantee. The programme will contribute in shaping an EU-wide Child Guarantee Programme framework to reduce child poverty and social exclusion at scale.

Nearly one quarter of children in Europe today are at risk of poverty and social exclusion. According to the latest Eurostat data, more than 120,000 girls and boys in Croatia, or 17.1 percent, are growing up at risk of poverty. Poverty and social exclusion can have a profound impact on the lives of children, preventing them from accessing to basic services such as healthcare, education, nutritious food, quality housing and childcare. Scientific evidence and practice show that the impact of growing up in poverty is not only detrimental to a child's development but can also have irreversible consequences for the child in cognitive, educational, social and emotional terms and support the intergenerational cycle of poverty of a family.

“The foundation of any society rests on creating enabling environments where children have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop in order to lead fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, many children face poverty and social exclusion, and we are working to put an end to this situation. In Međimurje County, some children from the Roma minority are at risk of poverty and lack access to child protection, family support and early intervention services, which are the main focus of the "Child Guarantee” programme”, said Josip Aladrović, Minister of Labor, Pension System, Family and Social Policy at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

“I believe that the pilot program will contribute to achieving long-term sustainable results for children in Međimurje county, and that the collected evidence and good practices will guide future strategic and political decisions to reduce child poverty and social exclusion in Croatia and across the European Union", said UNICEF Representative in Croatia, Regina M. Castillo.

The agreement signed today will open the door to the implementation of Phase III of the Child Guarantee in Croatia. This agreement lays the foundations for the development of a National Plan in Croatia under the government’s leadership, to address child poverty and social exclusion, based on a comprehensive policy and programme deep dive and development of innovative models of services and interventions.

The agreement also includes the implementation of concrete innovative and evidence-based models of services and interventions focused on the most vulnerable children. Specifically, the program will test models and interventions in Međimurje County which aim to ensure that the most vulnerable children will have access to and benefit from integrated, multidisciplinary, adequately resourced community and family-based support services, pre-primary-education and early childhood intervention. The "Child Guarantee" program in Croatia will, among other priorities, increase the participation of children in early preschool education in order to give them a better start in life and improve education outcomes, provide support to parents and ensure access to early intervention services for children with disabilities. The aim is to provide the youngest children with the support that would help break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage and ensure equal opportunities for their success in life.

The entire program will be closely monitored and evaluated, informing policies that address child poverty and social exclusion in Croatia as well as the European level, and also shaping the framework for financial support in this area by the European Commision.

“The information and views set out in this press release are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Source: Unicef Croatia