The situation of families in Romania is improving, although challenges remain with regard to the financial aspects of reconciling work and family life. The majority of women with children are employed, but the supply of childcare services is insufficient. This challenge is all the more important given that the full-time employment of both parents is regarded as the most practical way to combine work and family life. Current spending by government on family policies is low compared to the EU average and the high cost of bringing up children is a major concern for most Romanians. Roma families remain particularly vulnerable in this context.
In 201156.7% of Romanian mothers of children under six are in employment, compared to 58.9% of mothers in the EU as a whole. This is despite the fact that formal childcare was available in 2010 to only 7% of children under the age of three and to 66% of children between three and the minimum compulsory school age. This puts Romania well below the Barcelona targets and the respective EU averages of 28% and 84%.
On the other hand, overall employment rates of women and men are lower than the EU average: 52% and 65% versus 58.5% and 70.1% respectively in the EU in 2011.
The challenge is all the greater in that the option of part-time work is not favoured. Far fewer women in Romania (11.5%) work part time than is the case in the EU in general (32.1%) in 2011. In 2010 the gender pay gap stood at 12.5%, which is below the EU average of 16.4%.
Romanian law on the protection of children’s rights places a major importance on preventing a child being separated from its family. Thus, Public Social Assistance Services at local level are obliged to monitor and analyse the situation of children within their administrative-territorial area in order to identify and assess risk situations, as well as to prepare the documentation needed for granting services and/or provisions needed for preventing a separation.
Thus, an important role is played by the Public Social Assistance Service which works at the level of each administrative-territorial unit in the country. As described above, the roles of this service are multiple, including the identification of risk situations, preventing the separation of a child from its parents, as well as monitoring the situation of children in the respective administrative-territorial unit.
Before any removal of a child from its family can take place, or any restriction on parental rights, a full range of services and provisions, prescribed by law, must first be systematically applied, focused on the provision of full information to parents, counseling and mediation, which will be supplied on the basis of a service plan.
The authorities undertake active measures to maintain contact between the child and the parents for the duration of a foster care placement; the main priority is the reintegration of the child into the immediate or extended family.
Romania is one of a few countries where there are legal provisions forbidding the placement of a child under two in residential care. This kind of Placement in an institution is only permitted when a child is severely disabled or depends on specialized services for a recovery.
Young people who leave the child protection system and who might be at risk of social exclusion, can benefit from special protection also for a 2 year period after turning 18 (even when they chose not to continue their education), in order to support their integration into society and acquiring a working place.
The fact that spending on family benefits for children and families is only 1.8% of GDP in 2009 (the EU average is 2.3%) may well be part of the reason that there is a shortage of formal childcare. Child state allowance is a fixed sum paid for all children until they reach the age of 18 (and to children older than 18 who are continuing school). The allowance amounts to 200 lei (about €50) for children under the age of two and to 42 lei (about €10) for those older than two. In the case of children with disabilities, the higher allowance (i.e.200 lei, about €50) is available until the child’s third year, followed by an allowance of 84 lei (about €20) for older children. In terms of family policy options, an increase in child allowances is given top priority by 82% of Romanians, compared to 59% in the EU.
Women who have worked for at least 12 months the previous year are entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave, which is paid at an average of the six previous months of income. In 2009, in order to help families during the recent economic downturn, the Romanian government increased parental leave allowance.
A new social assistance law was adopted in December 2011. Under this new law, social assistance benefits are linked to the Social Reference Indicator (SRI) in order to ensure compatibility with unemployment insurance benefits (according to law no. 76/2002 on the unemployment insurance system and stimulation of the employment including subsequent amendments). This will also create the basis for implementing an integrated IT system which will ensure comparability and linkages between different social protection measures (contributory or non-contributory), which are provided for a person or a family. Hence, the eligibility thresholds and amounts of social assistance benefits are established in relation to the SRI by applying a social insertion index.
Option I: Parental leave and child raising allowance until the child is 12 months old:
Option II: Parental leave and child raising allowance until the child is two years
The program for granting child raising benefits, which started on 1 January 2011, includes a dynamic element: parents who come back to work are entitled to a monthly incentive covering total or partial cost for child day care. Also, during the parental leave and also, 6 months after, the beneficiaries have guaranteed job protection, that means that the employer cannot dismiss the beneficiaries of parental leave. In addition, during the period of parental leave and 6 months afterwards, the parent taking the leave has guaranteed job protection which means that the employer cannot dismiss them.
In 2011, 15.6% of total beneficiaries taking parental leave allowance or the back-to-work monthly incentive were fathers (a monthly average of 32,214 persons).
The programme is designed to ensure better conditions for the care, education and raising of children and also to stimulate school attendance of children of school age in families who benefit from this allowance. The objective is to increase the chances of a secured future, of personal welfare through own efforts.
This programme is aimed at encouraging social inclusion. It includes incentives to work — eligible individual who have a job obtains an increase of 15%in benefits — and promoting the principles of responsibility, active participation of beneficiaries through involvement in work, and activities benefiting the community. Starting 1 January 2011, the payment of social benefits is provided by county agencies and the funds for benefit payments are sustained from the state budget (according to law no. 276/2010, amending law no. 416/2001 on guaranteed minimum income).
Other benefits available to families include:
Programme for heating allowance during the cold season (according to the Emergency Government Ordinance no. 70/2011 regarding measures of social protection during the cold season). This is available to families who use thermal energy in a centralized house heating system, persons who use natural gas, or wood, coal and oil, are eligible to these measures. The Emergency Government Ordinance stipulates the maximum income of a person or a family for being eligible to the heating allowance, and it stipulates allowance amounts for heating with natural gas, wood, coal, oil, and thermal energy in a centralized system.
Social benefits for people with disabilities (according to law no. 448/2006 regarding the protection and promotion of rights of people with disabilities). Adults with disabilities are entitled to the following social benefits: a monthly benefit regardless of income; monthly personal complementary budget, regardless of income. The family or guardian of a child with a mild, middlin or severe or disability also have the right to this social benefit during the time in which the child is in their care, supervision and support.
Nursery vouchers granted by the employer to support parents who are not entitled to parental leave allowance. The amount of these vouchers is 300 lei (about €70).
Like other new EU Member States, Romania has a low fertility rate (1.3 children per woman in 2011 compared to an EU average of 1.6 in 2009) and is struggling with child poverty, which is very high by European standards 32.9% compared to an EU average of 20.5 % in 2011). Romania is taking action to address problems such as the access of Roma children to different services, street children, children whose parents work abroad and children with disabilities.
The government considers efficient public services to be the best way of addressing the child poverty problem and increasing wellbeing.
Regarding the issue of domestic violence a new law was recently approved by the Parliament, bringing a significant change in the way this problem is approached by all relevant authorities. Besides bringing a number of clarifications about the various types of violence, such as economic, social, religious, economic violence one of the most expected, yet important changes is the introduction of the ‘protection order’’. Such an order will be issued by a responsible Court of Law. It aims at offering real protection of the victims from their aggressors, meaning that the aggressor will be forbidden to visit places where the victim works or live, or even be banned from the common home even if he/she is the owner of the place.
Together with the new law, a new National Strategy aimed at preventing and combatting domestic violence will be approved by the government.
To reduce the school drop-out levels among children belonging to disadvantaged socio-economic groups, the government set up a number of projects aiming at providing educational services to these children. Vulnerable social groups are to be targeted so the number of children dropping out of school will be reduced and their families helped to have their children reinstated in school.The information in the country profile was last updated in September 2012.