Over recent years important legislative reforms and new strategic plans have been implemented with the goals of improving child protection in Spain and combatting child poverty. Therefore, in addition to the 2nd National Strategic Plan for Childhood and Adolescence 2013 – 2016 (II Plan Estratégico Nacional de Infancia y Adolescencia, PENIA) and the Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2013 – 2016 (Plan de Acción para la Inclusión Social, PNAIN), which prioritise combatting child poverty as a transversal objective, the Comprehensive Plan for Family Support 2015-2017 (Plan Integral de Apoyo a la Familia, PIAF) has been approved. Its strategic lines of action include social and economic protection for families with dependent minors.
Among the most significant legislative reforms are the Organic Law 8/2015 and Law 26/2015; both modify the protection system for children and adolescents.
The child AROPE rate in Spain has increased by six decimal points (32% to 32.6%) between 2009 and 2013, and this trend continues in 2014. This difference is apparent in the age group of minors between 12 and 17 years old (37.6% in Spain compared with 30.2% in the EU-28 in 2013). According to the latest data published by EUROSTAT in 2014, the child AROPE rate in Spain is 35.8% and reaches 40.9% for minors between 12 and 17 years old.
In 2014 the poverty risk for children under the age of 18 in Spain was slightly higher than in the EU-28 (39.3% compared to 34.5%, respectively) if social benefits are not taken into account. However, the reduction in child poverty including social benefits (except pensions) is much higher in the EU-28, with 13.4% reaching up to 21.1% compared to Spain, with a reduction of 8.8 percentage points reaching 30.5%.
The unemployment rate has increased considerably since the beginning of the crisis and is one of the primary causes of child poverty in Spain. Between 2007 and 2014, it increased by 16.2 points, rising from 8.2 to 24.5%. However, since 2014 there has been a clear turn in the trend with the 2014 rate falling below the 2012 rate of 24.8%.
Different measures have been taken to economically support families in general, and in particular the most vulnerable families, reinforcing the protection of families with children in the Prepare Plan (Plan Prepara) unemployment benefits. The Extraordinary Activation Programme (Programa Extraordinario de Activación) has been implemented for the long-term unemployed with family responsibilities. In addition, for the first time a State fund to cover the basic needs of families with dependent children at risk of social exclusion has been created.
The Food Payment Guarantee Fund (Fondo de Garantía del Pago de Alimentos) has also been economically reinforced; it aims to cover outstanding food pension payments for minors and disabled adults in cases of legal separation, divorce or marriage annulment that are recognised by a legal ruling. The initial budgetary endowment for 2015 was as high as 3.5M€. This was later increased by 1.2M€ to meet demands that were higher than expected.
With the goal of guaranteeing housing, a suspension of expulsions has been established for eviction procedures for primary residencies in the case of particularly vulnerable families (with children under three years old, single parents, large families, unemployed persons without further access to benefits, etc.) and a system has been established to resolve insolvency for individuals, with mechanisms to ensure that families can overcome their debt as quickly as possible. Similarly, the Social Housing Fund (Fondo Social de Viviendas), property of credit institutions, has been consolidated and reorganised in order to offer coverage to those who have been evicted from their primary residences and who are in an especially vulnerable situation, increasing the number of collectives and circumstances in which they can access said Fund.
In 2014 – 2015 the number of pupils enrolled in the two stages of Infant Education reached 1,836,606 (440,593 pupils in the first cycle of 0 – 3 year olds, and 1,396,013 in the second cycle of 3 – 6 year olds). The number of pupils in Primary Education was 2,904,948, and there were 34,544 in Special Education and 1,840,071 in Compulsory Secondary Education. The provisional spending on study grants and benefits in the 2014 – 2015 period (benefits include text books and educational materials and reduced academic prices for large families with three children) rose respectively to more than 1.410M€ and to more than 46M€, resulting in a total of 757,027 and 122,508 beneficiaries receiving grants and benefits.
In the framework of the National Strategy for the Social Inclusion of the Gypsy Population in Spain 2012 – 2020 (Estrategia Nacional para la Inclusión Social de la Población Gitana en España), the data coincides to demonstrate clear advances in regard to the education of gypsy children in Infant and Primary Education. The school enrolment rates for Infant Education are the lowest for the population as a whole but have risen significantly in recent years. In regard to Primary Education, the schooling of gypsy girls and boys is virtually normalised, although frequent absenteeism and the early dropout rate continue to be causes for concern. This phenomenon is intensified in the first cycle of Compulsory Secondary Education, where there have been advances in regard to continued attendance and an improvement in the value that families place in education; however, the percentage of absenteeism among gypsy pupils is still high (14.3%), more so for girls (16%) than for boys (12.8%).
Additionally, with the objective of articulating an explicit family policy with a coherent set of measures, the Council of Ministers approved on 14th May 2015 the Comprehensive Plan for Family Support 2015 – 2017. Among its strategic lines of action, there is an emphasis on the economic and social support of families with minors to combat child poverty, improving the conciliation and co-responsibility of work and family life, supporting families in situations of special need (large families, single parents, disabled family members, migrants, conflict and violence, etc.), the protection of maternity, and in general, measures to promote a favourable and positive environment for family life (housing, health, justice, education, social services, family leisure, intergenerational solidarity, etc.). It also establishes the strategic objective of supporting positive parenting, promoting family education programmes and other support services for families with minors through collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality (Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad, MSSSI) and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias, FEMP), experts from different Spanish universities, family affairs professionals and the association movement.
Additionally, in 2015 the government launched a family and childhood support programme allocating 32M€ to fund social intervention programmes and economic and/or in-kind benefits that improve the social and working context of families that are in situations of serious material deprivation or at risk of poverty with child dependents. A 48M€ endowment has been planned for 2016.
Meanwhile, within the call for subsidies for Personal Income Tax (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas, IRPF), funding for social urgency programmes has been increased. The goal is to fund actions aimed at the establishment and maintenance of food kitchens, as well as providing food and other basic goods. In the 2014 request for applications, 23,878,149€ were granted. In the 2015 request for applications, 23,928,149€ were granted.
In regard to the participation of boys, girls and adolescents (BGA) in public life, the new legislation for the protection of minors expressly recognises the right to fully participate in the social, cultural, artistic and recreational life in their area and progressively be incorporated into active citizenship. Additionally, it recognises the obligation of the public powers to promote the constitution of bodies for BGA participation.
In that respect, it is important to indicate that the General State Administration (Administración General del Estado, AGE), within its sphere of competencies attributed by the constitution in the area, makes this right effective through collaboration with the association movement, contributing through the aforementioned calls for subsidies to develop a wide variety of programmes.
Also, public policies that promote child participation in the framework of the 2nd PENIA were developed through a range of measures, such as the constitution of formal bodies for child participation in public institutions, consultation of BGA in the processes of creating plans for childhood and adolescence, the participation of BGA in the studies and reports about their situation and the progressive transversal implementation of the principles of child participation through the UNICEF’s Spanish Committee’s Child Friendly Cities Programme, or the Cibercorresponsales Programme developed by the Child Platform, both financed by the MSSSI.
Furthermore, in the autonomous communities of Spain there are collegiate and participative bodies such as the Municipal Groups for Child and Adolescent Participation in Asturias and the Basque Country; the Forums for Childhood and Adolescence in Asturias; Local Councils for Child and Adolescent Care, Commissions for Child and Adolescent Participation and the Ambassador Commission in the Madrid Community, which represent minors living in children’s homes. There are also Regional Meetings of Children’s Councils such as those in Castilla and León.
The primary change is the aforementioned Law 26/2015, which establishes the obligation to evaluate the impact on childhood and adolescence in all policy projects that include economics, among other aspects. This contributes to the protection of the economic resources allocated to childhood, acquiring special relevance in crisis situations and the annual budget laws.
The information in the country profile was last updated in February 2016.
In 2015, the Royal Decree-Law 9/2015, of July 10th, was approved with the objective of helping families with dependent minors and families in vulnerable situations with urgent measures to reduce the tax burden borne by Personal Income Tax payers and other measures of an economic nature, which increases the reduction of the Personal Income Tax payments corresponding to the 2015 tax year, through the approval of a new tax rate.
The reform offers fiscal burden relief for families with dependent minors. Large families or taxpayers with dependent children or family members with a disability have the right to receive 1,200€. Additionally, the subsidies are accumulative, a large family that has a dependent disabled parent/grandparent or child will have the right to 2,400€ assistance. According to calculations by the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration, 750,000 families will benefit from this assistance. Taxpayers with incomes under 12,000€ a year will be exempt from paying IRPF.