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Spain: family and child support, active inclusion

There are 8,348,349 minors under the age of 18 in Spain (17.9 % of the country’s total population) according to INE statistics of 1/01/2014.
The economic and unemployment crisis has had a serious impact on the incomes of families, affecting mainly disadvantaged families with children. Apart from the 2013-2016 Second National Strategic Plan for Children and Adolescents (II Plan Estratégico Nacional de Infancia y Adolescencia 2013-2016 [PENIA]), on 13 December 2013 the government approved the Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2013 – 2016 (Plan de Acción para la Inclusión Social [PNAIN]), giving priority to combatting child poverty as a transversal objective. 

Access to adequate resources

According to the most recent statistics published by EUROSTAT for Spain in 2013 (a change was made to the survey method for this year) the child AROPE rate is 32.6%.

Without taking social benefits into account, the poverty risk to those under the age of 18 in 2012 in Spain was 36.8%, slightly higher than in the EU-27 where the risk was 34.5%, but the reduction in child poverty including social benefits (with the exception of pensions) is much higher in the EU-27, at 13.8 percentage points, bringing it to 20.7%, compared to Spain with a reduction of 6.9 percentage points, bringing it to 29.9%.

Unemployment rates among the working population have not changed (annual average in 2013 of 54.8%). However, there does seem to be a slight change in the unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2014 where it is 24.4% compared to the 26.3% average in 2013, which seems to suggest that labour reforms aimed at improving employment are working. These reforms are being approved by the Government to meet the objectives of successive National Reform Programmes.

The Payment to Creditors Plan (El Plan de Pago a Proveedores) and the Autonomous Liquidity Fund (Fondo de Liquidez Autonómico) for paying invoices has meant that 400,000 jobs have been saved, drawing in a total, throughout 2012 and 2013, of 41,814.62 million euros. In 2013, through the same Plan, social services bills were paid from an input of 681 million euros, of which the tertiary sector paid 80 million euros, and using the same Fund bills totalling 1.292 million euros were paid to social services creditors, with the tertiary sector paying 40 million euros.

To support the most vulnerable in keeping their homes, last May, the Commission for Monitoring and Coordinating the Social Housing Fund (Comisión de Seguimiento y Coordinación del Fondo Social de Viviendas [FSV]) agreed to increase the scope of the Convention that regulates the Social Housing Fund, which supports families in difficulty due to the crisis, particularly those who lost their homes due to eviction after 1 January 2008, retaining the previous requirements (unemployed and without benefits, single-parent families, large families and gender violence). 780 homes were allocated in 2013.

Access to affordable quality services

Towards the end of 2013, an Organic Law was approved to improve the quality of education, which addresses the main problems detected in the education system (reducing the rate of early drop-outs in school, improving the results regarding education according to international criteria and the employability of young people).

In 2013-2014, the number of pupils enrolled in the two stages of Child Education rose to 1,886,373; in Primary Education, 2,857,153; in Special Education, 33,447 and Compulsory Secondary Education, 1,826,327. The provisional spending on study grants and benefits in the 2012-2013 period (most recent data available) rose to 1.434 million euros and 71 million euros, respectively, and the total number of beneficiaries of student grants was 812,411 and 344,260 for benefits. The number of non-university general teaching schools and colleges in the 2013-2014 school year rose to a total of 27,790.

According to the statistics of the National Strategy for the Social Inclusion of the Gypsy Population in Spain 2012-2020, significant progress has been made with Roma students, although the rate of school failure at compulsory secondary education level is 64%, and it is very rare to find young Roma studying beyond compulsory schooling age.

Furthermore, to coordinate family policy with a coherent series of measures, in 2014 the Council of Ministers will approve the Comprehensive Plan for Family Support. Among its strategies is economic and social support for families with under age children to combat child poverty, a better balance between and co-responsibility between family and working life, support for families with special needs (large families, single-parents, families with disabled family members, immigrant families, families facing conflict and violence, etc.), maternity care and measures to promote a good family environment (home, health, justice, education, social services, family recreation time, inter-generational solidarity, etc.).

Another strategic objective is to support positive parenting encouraged in family education programmes and other support services for families with under-age children. This is done by working together with the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality (Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad [MSSSI]) with the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias), experts from the Spanish universities, professionals in family affairs and the association movement.

Child participation

Promoting child participation is one of the pillars of child policies in Spain. Successful programmes focus on encouraging social inclusion and integration. The MSSSI channelled child participation programmes with 53.8% of the total targeted for subsidies from income tax on physical persons. An example of best practice is “CIBERRESPONSALES: an educational and social network for child inclusion and participation”, developed by the Child Platform since 2010 with funds from the MSSSI.

This is a social network where  youngsters aged from twelve to seventeen organised in groups (associations, social agencies working with children, etc.) publish blogs where they give their opinions and discuss issues that are pertinent and of interest to them by exchanging information and communicating one with another.

Lastly, there is an on-going process in which children and adolescents participate in measures II PENIA measures which, coordinated by the Child Platform with the support of the MSSSI, is working with the version adapted for them, known as: “The PENIA Adventure”.


To address inclusion and social protection, the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion  (PNAIN) 2013-2016 has the transversal aim of combatting child poverty and adopting measures for all public administration departments dealing with active inclusion.
Promoting and supporting family homes is one of the basic pillars of social protection.  The challenges for Spain will be, together with developing the second national plan for social inclusion (II PENIA), approval of a comprehensive plan for family support in conciliation and co-responsibility of personal, family and working life and in economic and social support for families with under-age children.  
Spain is reforming legislation on child protection making relevant changes, among them being the rights of the child and putting the child first, as well as the right of children to be heard in proceedings affecting them.

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

Child Friendly Cities (UNICEF)

MSSSI has been funding and supporting for more than a decade the UNICEF Spain programme for Child Friendly Cities with the aim being to promote the application of CRN (Convention on the Rights of the Child) among local authorities and to encourage active child participation in the life of the municipality using Child Councils and forums created for this purpose. Networking will be encouraged to help form relationships between local governments and other stakeholders interested in applying CRN to share information and creative solutions. Local Alliances are currently being formed within this context for Children and Adolescents, using local action strategies in which different programmes are designed to promote services to provide well-being, equality and social collaboration at the benefit of the child.