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Spain: family and child support, active inclusion

The number of people aged between 0 and 17 years in Spain is 8,367,728 (Census of 1 January 2013 - National Statistics Institute (INE), 17.9% of the country's total population. Spain's economic and unemployment crisis had a huge impact on household income, primarily affecting families with dependent children.  The II National Strategic Plan for Childhood and Adolescence (2013-2016) -PENIA- approved by the Council of Ministers on the 5th of April 2013 consensually sets out the long-term strategic policies prioritising childhood in the political agenda.

Access to adequate resources

The AROPE rate for children (under 18 years) increased in Spain between 2008 (30.6%) and 2012 (33.8%), being even higher in minors aged 12-17 years (39.6% in 2012 compared to 30.2% for the EU28 population), while the latest data from 2012 reflect the change in AROPE for those under 18 at 33.8%.  The rate is higher in Spain than in the EU27 population (28.1% in 2012), but the rate of childhood poverty is approximately the same as the EU28 level (36.9% in Spain, 34.2% in the EU28 population), by including social benefits in income (with the exception of pensions).

The employment rates in the active population (15-64 years) have changed in recent years, reaching 60.5% in 2012.

In response to the National Reforms Programme (NRP), Spain has launched labour reforms focused on entrepreneurship, professional retraining and improvement in the synergy between active and passive employment policies (for example automatic extension of the PREPARA programme with special reference to family responsibilities until unemployment falls below 20%, and the recent Royal Decree 4/2013).

The financial backing of the Spanish business system, with the Suppliers Payment Method and the Autonomous Liquidity Fund in the payment of invoices have enabled the creation/maintenance of 174,542 jobs, as well as a 1.3% increase in GDP, raising a total of 27,372 million Euros. This method has been expanded in 2013 with the aim of including debts owed to NGOs.

In support of the most vulnerable families in terms of housing, Law 1/2013 (14th May) was approved with an aim to strengthen the protection of mortgage debtors, and debt and rent restructuring, creating a Social Housing Fund to house the most vulnerable families, who have been evicted from their home. Its beneficiaries are: numerous, single-parent families with two or more dependent children, with at least one child under three years, with one member in a situation of dependency, unable to work or with a disability which exceeds 33%, in which the mortgage debtor is unemployed and has used up his/her benefits, or in which there are victims of gender-based violence.

Access to quality services

The school attendance rate of children from 3 years up to the minimum school age was 86% in 2011. According to provisional data for the year 2012-2013, the number of enrolled children (age 0 to 3 years) was 437,279 and 1,462,894 pupils in the second year. The number of educational centres has increased to a total of 21,140. The amount of grants for pre-school education (year 2010-2011) rose to 116,132,000 Euros.

On 17 May 2013, the Council of Ministers approved the submission to the Parliament of the Organic Draft Bill for the Improvement in Educational Quality which includes a set of measures that improve the conditions for all pupils. Its implementation will entail a combined cost of 255 million Euros annually, part of which is co-financed with the European Social Fund corresponding to the period 2014-2020.

Significant progress has been made in relation to Roma students in accordance with the data from the National Roma Integration Strategy in Spain 2012-2020. The rates of school attendance in pre-school education have increased significantly, between 1994 and 2009, since there has been a rise of almost 30 percentage points of Roma children who have attended pre-school education prior to their compulsory schooling (87% in 2009). In primary education, the schooling of Roma children is practically standardised, but the presence of young Roma students in post-compulsory studies is still less frequent.

With the aim of structuring a family policy explicitly as a coherent set of standard measures, the Comprehensive Family Support Plan will be approved in 2014. Encouraging Positive Parenting, following Recommendation 19 (2006) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of the Member States, is a strategic objective that the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality have been working on for years with the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) and a group of experts from different Spanish universities.

Child participation

The ultimate aim of II PENIA is the promotion of child participation. This includes measures such as “sports for everyone”, participation in towns, the development of play centres and socio-educational spaces and the promotion of voluntary work.

In relation to children's rights to participate in civil society, the growing number of towns recorded through the "Child Friendly Cities" programme which have child participation authorities or councils (12% of 8,144 towns) stands out.

In relation to the associative movement, 44% of children between 6 and 11 years claim to belong to a group or association, while 31% of children between 12 and 14 years claim the same thing. Currently, the educational field has the greatest amount of regulation, where high school students have clear participation methods through school councils.


The family is a vital institution for social stability and cohesion, so, therefore, promotion and support to households with family dependants is one of the central ideas of social protection.  The future challenges for Spain shall be coupled with the development of the National Strategic Plan for Childhood and Adolescence (2013-2016), the approval of a Comprehensive Family Support Plan with developments in reconciliation and joint responsibility for the personal, family and working life.

In terms of inclusion and social protection, the approval in the next quarter of a National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2013-2016 with the transverse aim of the fight against childhood poverty shall develop all the public administration measures with the strategic aim of active inclusion.

The information in the country profile was last updated in February 2014.

Child Friendly Cities (UNICEF)

This programme ( is an initiative of the Spanish Committee of UNICEF financed by the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality for 10 years. Its main aim is to drive the application of UNCRC in the field of Local Spanish Authorities. It also hopes to actively promote children's civil participation in municipal public life through Childhood Councils or forums created for this purpose. In addition, it promotes networking and facilitates the establishment of relationships between local governments and between those and other actors interested in the development of the UNCRC to share information and creative solutions. During this process, 62 Spanish cities have been recognised, which means 80 cities follow good practice in terms of children's rights and 180,000 annual visits to its web page. Currently, the Local Childhood and Youth Alliances (ALIA) have been developed within this framework as local implementation strategies where different programmes are possible aimed at promoting services from the perspective of well-being, equity and social collaboration in support of childhood.