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Romania: Accessible social assistance benefits, insufficient and costly education, care and healthcare services, better services for institutionalised children, limited participation

The situation of families in Romania is improving, although challenges remain with regard to the financial aspects of reconciling work and family life.

A unitary system of social assistance is in place at the national level, (Law no. 292/2011 of social assistance system) which is available for all families, focused more on social assistance benefits which create incentives for parents for returning to work, yet there is insufficient access to care services for children.

Romanian law on the protection of children’s rights places major importance on preventing a child being separated from its family. The main responsibility in this respect lies with the Public Social Assistance Service.

Most mothers work despite low availability of childcare

In 2014, 57% of Romanian mothers with at least one child under 6 years old are in employment, compared to the EU-28 average of 60.7%. However, overall parenthood does not seem to affect employment status of people with 68% of parents with at least one child under 6 years old being employed in 2014. There has been a strong decrease in the provision of formal childcare for children under the age of 3 (6% in 2013 compared to 15% in 2012) and for children between 3 and the minimum compulsory school age (51% in 2013 compared to 59% in 2012). However, this still puts Romania well below the Barcelona targets and the respective EU-28 averages of 27% and 82% respectively in 2013. Furthermore 51% of people less than 18 years old are at risk of poverty or social exclusion (compared to the EU-28 average of 27.7%), which is almost half of the whole cohort. Furthermore, the share among families with children living in povertypdf Choose translations of the previous link  is almost twice as high as the share of people living in poverty in the childless population. On the other hand, overall employment rates of women and men are lower than the EU-28 average: 53.3% (women) and 68.7% (men) in Romania versus 59.6% (women) and 70.1% (men) respectively in the EU-28 in 2014. Far fewer women in Romania (11.1%) work part time than is the case in EU-28 in general (32.8%) in 2014. In 2010 the unadjusted gender pay gap stood at 9.1% in 2013, which is below the EU-28 average of 16.3% in 2013.

Access to adequate resources

The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Elderly People in Romania continues to implement a national program financed by the Romanian Government and the European Bank for Development, which has the aim to set up around 200 day care centres. Beneficiaries will be, among others, children whose parents are returning to work.

Romania has recently modified legislation on the unemployment insurance system and on job growth in order to better integrate active and passive labour market policies. The legislation currently includes two measures for supporting parents’ participation in the labour market. The first measure refers to free of charge vocational training provision for people who get back to work after parental leave for children with disabilities aged two or three. The second measure refers to financial incentives for employers that offer employment opportunities to the sole provider in single parent families.

Legislation in the field of social assistance has the purpose of improving the living standards of families with children. The legislation on child raising allowance (EGO no. 111/2010) allows parents to choose between two different ways of receiving parental leave and benefits for raising a child:

Option I: Parental leave and child raising allowance until the child is 12 months old. This is a monthly child raising allowance to the amount of 85% of the average net income of the last 12 months before the child’s birth; the minimum is 1.2 SRI (600 lei, about €133) and the maximum is 6.8 SRI (3,400 lei, about €750). A monthly insertion incentive is paid in the amount of 1 SRI (500 lei, about €111) until the child is two years old if the parent decides to return to work before the child reaches the age of one. Unpaid parental leave is granted when the child is between one and two years old if the parent decides not to return to work.

Option II: Parental leave and child raising allowance until the child is 24 months old.

This is a monthly child raising allowance to the amount of 85% of the average net income of the last 12 months before the child’s birth; the minimum is 1.2 SRI (600 lei about €133) and the maximum is 2.4 SRI (1,200 lei about €266); the monthly insertion incentive in the amount of 1 SRI (500 lei, about €110) is paid until the child is two years old if the parent decides to return to work after the child reaches the age of one.

The monthly insertion incentive for parents who return to work covers the total or partial cost for child day care. In addition, during the parental leave and for 6 months afterwards, the parent taking parental leave has a guaranteed job which means that the employer cannot dismiss him/her.

Allowances and aids for raising the child with disability (provided by the article 32 from EGO no.111/2010), granted to persons with children with disabilities, up to the age of 7 years old or to the persons with disability who became a parent. Amounts between 150 lei (34 euro) and 450 lei (100 euro):

  • Monthly allowance in amount of 450 lei (€100) granted to persons with children with disabilities, aged between 3 and 7 years old, who benefited from the rights established by GEO no.  111/2010;
  • Monthly allowance in amount of 450 lei (€100) granted to persons with high/pronounced disabilities, with children with disabilities, aged between 0 and 3 years old, who earn only the incomes granted for persons with disabilities;
  • Monthly allowance in amount of 300 lei (€67) granted to persons with high/pronounced disabilities, with children with disabilities, aged between 3 and 7 years old, who earn only the incomes granted for persons with disabilities;
  • Monthly allowance in amount of 300 lei (€67) granted to persons with children with disabilities, aged between 0 and 3 years old, who do not fullfil the conditions established by GEO no.  111/2010;
  • Monthly allowance in amount of 150 lei (€34) granted to persons with children with disabilities, aged between 3 and 7 years old, who do not fullfil the conditions established by GEO no.  111/2010;
  • Monthly allowance in amount of 450 lei (€100) granted to persons with high/pronounced disabilities, with children aged between 0 and 2 years old, who earn only the incomes granted for persons with disabilities;
  • Monthly allowance in amount of 150 lei (€34) granted to persons with high/pronounced disabilities, with children aged between 2 and 7 years old, who earn just the incomes granted for persons with disabilities

Furthermore there is a program for family allowances (Law no. 277/2010). This allowance is granted based on means-tested (family incomes and assests) and is paid to families made of husband and wife who take care of their children, those being up to 18 years old, living and contributing to the household together and earning net monthly income per family member lower than a threshold of 1.06 SRI (530 lei about €118). The programme is designed to provide better conditions for the care, education and upbringing of children, as well as to increase school attendance rates of children in families who receive the allowance.

Different amounts for two parents family and single parent family:

  • For family with average monthly net incomes per family member up to 0,4 ISR (200 lei) (45 euro) are granted the following amounts:
  • 0,164 ISR (82 lei) (18) / 0,214 ISR (107 lei)(24) for family with 1 child;
  • 0,328 ISR (164 lei) (37) /0,428 ISR (214 lei) (48) forfamily with 2 children;
  • 0,4920 ISR (246 lei) (56) /0,642 ISR (321 lei)(73) for family with 3 children;
  • 0,6560 ISR (328 lei) (74) / 0,856 ISR (428 lei)(97) for family with 4 children or more.
  • For family with average monthly net incomes per family member between 0,402 SRI (201 lei) and 0,74 ISR (370 lei) are granted the following amounts:
  • 0,150 ISR (75 lei) (17)/ 0,204 ISR (102 lei) (23) for family with 1 child;
  • 0,300 ISR (150 lei) (34) / 0,408 ISR (204 lei) (46) forfamily with 2 children
  • 0,450 ISR (225 lei) (51) / 0,612 ISR (306 lei)(69) for family with 3 children;
  • 0,600 ISR (300 lei) (68) / 0,816 ISR (408 lei)(92) for family with 4 children or more.

Families have the right to receive a child state allowance (Law no. 61/1993), granted based on the principle of universality for all the children until de age of 18, without discrimination. The young persons after the age of 18 who follow the educational courses or vocational educational courses have the right to the child state allowances until they finish the studies.

The child state allowance is granted on a monthly basis, in a fixed amount, no matter the revenues of the family. Amounts for 2015:

  • 200 lei  (0,4 ISR) (€45) for children until the age of 2 or 3 years old, in the case of children with disability.
  • 84 lei (0,168 ISR) (€19) for children  with the age between 2 years and 18 years old, and also for young people after the age of 18 until they finish the educational courses or vocational educational courses.
  • 200 lei  (0,4 ISR) (€45) for the children with disabilities with the age between 3 years and 18 years old.

The family or guardian of a child with a profound, severe, or medium (moderate) disability has the right to receive social assistance during the time in which the child is in their care, supervision and support.

The amount of the monthly complementary budget paid acoording with article 58 from Law no. 448/2006 is:

  • 106 lei (€24), for profound disability;
  • 79 lei (€18) for severe disability;
  • 39 lei, (€8)  for medium disability;

Child placement allowance, Law no. 272/2004, granted for each child or young person who benefits from the measure of placement to a person, family, guardian, foster parent or to residential care organized by an authorized private body. The monthly amount of the allowance is 600 lei (133 euro) and is granted from the state budget.

Access to affordable quality services

Social assistance, social services and the education, health and housing services in Romania are equally provided to all the beneficiaries that fulfil the legal criteria. The coverage of these services depends on their availability at the local level because local authorities are responsible for these. The central level has a regulatory responsibility in the field of services and can also allocate limited financial resources from the central state budget for accredited organizations that provide such services (Law no. 34/1998 on providing subventions to Romanian associations and foundations with legal personality, which establishes and administers social assistance units).

Children’s right to participate

The law on child protection was modified, with more provisions being introduced covering a wide range of areas.

Therefore new chapters were introduced covering children whose parents are working abroad, children involved in artistic, sports, advertising and cultural activities, and ways of ensuring the personal relationship between a child and their parents.

At the same time, the legislation provides a number of criteria that should be taken into consideration when establishing what the best interest of the child is. These criteria are to be taken into account by all professionals and authorities when making a decision regarding a child.

Measures regarding the children’s right to participate are also included in the National Strategy for the Protection of Children Rights for 2014-2020 and its Operational Plan.

Thus, within the strategy’s objectives were included those referring to the ensurance of an equal access to information for all children or the support offered to diversifying the children participation forms.

In the same time, the National Authority for the Protection of Children Rights and Adoption, as central authority in the field, has signed a Cooperation Agreement with the National Council of Students, which is the main national representative structure, representing the students from primary to high school cycle. The document creates the general framework allowing the participation of children to all activities referring to the decisions concerning them, adopted by the authorities.

Further outlook

The government considers efficient public services as the best way to address issues of child poverty and to increase children’s well-being. Romania has approved in 2014 a new government strategy in the field of protection and promotion of children’s rights, which will be based on a comprehensive approach in different priority areas (social services, education and health), so that children’s rights can be insured in a coordinated and coherent manner. This is to be accomplished through inter-institutional cooperation between the responsible ministries and the involvement of the NGO sector.

Reforms of the educational system are set out in the National Anti-Corruption Strategy in Education (2013-2015) following a series of corruption scandals in the educational system.  In the area of child and family protection one of the existing strategies for the future are the National Strategy for Combating and Preventing Family Violence (2013-2017), adopted in October 2012, the National Strategy on Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction (2015-2020), adopted in June 2015 and the Strategy for Inclusion of the Romanian Citizens belonging to Roma Minority (2012-2020), adopted in 2011.

At the regional (county) level, decentralised 47 General Directorates for Child and Family Protection do their own strategic planning however the administrative capacity of these Directorates varies a lot. However, most of these have their own approach to child and family protection and the level of services provided, and half of these Directorates have a county level strategy in the field of child and family protection or social inclusion.

Moreover, in the field of child protection the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Elderly, through the National Authority for the Protection of Children Rights and Adoption, will continue the implementation of projects within the National Interest Programmes (NIP), which have the purpose of closing down old institutions and setting up new services for the children with disabilities.

The information in the country profile was last updated in February 2016.

In previous years a shift took place from interventions of national authorities in the area of de-institutionalization to more prevention. Over the next years Romania intends to promote and implement a package of integrated community services which ensure a more efficient protection of the vulnerable children. The service package will aim at the coordination of activities by specialists in different areas, such as health, education and social services focused on preventing the separation of children from their families.

The investment in community based services is considered to be a solution that supports the interests of children and their families, and which is also more cost efficient. The investment in community based services can therefore lead to the decrease in costs incurred by institutional care.