September 21 2022
Save the Children believes that more money for “poor” parents is not enough to reduce child poverty. The government should take more far-reaching measures.
Child poverty is in the news almost every day. The impact of rising inflation, rising energy prices and the associated decline in purchasing power has been the most severe impact on children.
In the Netherlands, 1 in 12 children will grow up in poverty this year. That’s about 300,000 children. After several years of slight decline, the number of children growing up in poverty for the first time is now rising. In August, the Central Planning Office calculated that the proportion of children growing up below the poverty line would rise to at least 9.5% by 2023. Growing up in poverty limits children’s growth opportunities. It has a negative effect on physical and mental health. Because of the high costs of contribution, children stop participating in sports, music, or participating in associations. It is common for children to go to school without food.
Not all children in poverty benefit of measures
In the budget note, the government announced measures to reverse poverty in the Netherlands. An energy cap, raising the minimum wage, addressing and preventing homelessness. The announced actions are likely to help 100,000 children. But not all children will benefit in any way from these measures. Some require customization. For example, because of their residency status, a disability, or their upbringing in a precarious family situation. We ask the Cabinet not to lose sight of this group of children. Child poverty is more than just income security for parents. For this reason we have a number of recommendations:
The Netherlands still has a reservation on the art. 26 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This makes it impossible for children to file an independent appeal to Social Security before national courts. Minors are included in family assistance. Recent research has identified eight groups of children who for a variety of reasons are unable to claim their right to social benefits, including children in homeless families, children who have troubled relationships with their parents, or children whose parents do not qualify for social benefits. Make social services directly available, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
National Child Guarantee Plan
The National Child Guarantee Plan aims to break through intergenerational poverty and promote social inclusion. The current plan lacks Recommendation 5, which identifies the most vulnerable target groups, including (1) homeless children (2) children with disabilities (3) children with mental health problems (4) children of immigrant background or minority ethnicity; Roma children (5) in (closed) institutions (6) children in precarious family situations. In addition, a gender perspective is missing and the plan does not specify any numbers or goals. Ensure that the National Child Guarantee Scheme serves all children in the Netherlands and provides customized solutions.
Free healthy (warm) lunch at school every day, which is very common in many countries. Children learn healthy eating habits that have a positive impact on physical and mental health later in life. In this way, children in precarious living conditions get at least one healthy meal a day and are no longer in class on an empty stomach.
Free child care
From January 1, 2025, the government will pay 95% of the cost of childcare for working parents. Then the personal contribution will be 5% regardless of the parents’ income. This makes childcare much cheaper for many parents. But poor parents will actually pay 1% more than their own contribution. Provide free childcare to these parents.
Participation of children and youth
No good policy on child poverty can be made without children and young people being able to participate in discussions and decisions on this topic. They know best what they are facing and where they need support. Participation is a fundamental right, enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, it also contributes to the personal, social, emotional and moral development of children and youth and increases the connection between youth and government.