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Children living in poverty

As in many oECD and Eu countries, child poverty is an important policy issue that may prevent children from breaking the cycle of disadvantage. Children born into severe poverty are disproportionally exposed to factors that impede psycho-motor development, socio-emotional growth and cognitive processes (European Commission, 2013b). When combined with deprived or neglectful family backgrounds and poorly educated parents, poverty becomes the single greatest barrier to educational achievement (Coleman et al., 1966; Duncan et al., 1998; Heckman, 2008; Melhuish et al., 2008; EACEA/Eurydice, 2009; del Boca, 2010; Ladd, 2012).

in 2013, 12.3% of children under the age of 6 were living in poverty in Latvia, which is slightly higher than many oECD and Eu countries (Figure 2.4). Though it has dropped considerably since 2010, when it was as high as 19.6%, the data still show a sizable proportion of young children at risk of social exclusion who may need specific measures to support their educational and other developmental needs.

unlike education, where high spending does not always ensure learning achievement, government spending on family and social benefits is strongly correlated with the reduction of child poverty rates (Bennett, 2008a). The effects of child poverty can be lessened through family support and children’s services, but governments also need to tackle family poverty upstream through energetic social, housing and labour policies including income transfers to low-income groups, comprehensive social and family policies, and supportive employment schemes and work training (Bennett, 2008a; OECD, 2006, 2011).

Figure 2.4. Child poverty among children under the age of six (2013)

notes: №m-oECD countries are shown in blue.

Poverty thresholds are set at 50% of the median equalised disposable income of the entire population. 1. note by Turkey: The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the island. Turkey recognises the Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus (TRNC). until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the united nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

note by all the European union Member States of the oECD and the European union: The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the united nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Countries are ranked in descending order of at risk of poverty rate among children under age 6. Source: Eurostat (2015b), “At-risk-of-poverty rate by poverty threshold, age and sex (source: SILC)”, Eurostat database, Eurostat, (accessed 14 August 2015).

The latvian government has implemented a number of policies in these areas. These include the amendment of the law on State Social Allowances increasing child and parental benefits and the co-funding of ECEC places and family day care services, mentioned above. Free meals are also offered to children from very poor families attending ECEC, and several projects have been implemented to improve the larger social support system for children and their families (see Box 2.4 for one example). These various policy initiatives, although not always co-ordinated or implemented in a coherent manner, seem to have contributed to mitigating the effects of socio-economic disadvantage and enhancing the chances of Latvia’s youngest children enjoying an early education (and care).

Box 2.4. “Hand-in-Hand for Child Support” - responding to equity challenges in Latvia

The major cause of children not completing primary school education, which is compulsory in Latvia, include family troubles and insufficient family support networks. A pilot project in the Latvian city of Cesis aimed to reduce dropout rates and improve the social support system for families and children. Through this project, “Hand-in-hand for child support”, 28 people were trained to work directly with parents in ECEC institutions and primary schools. The overall objective of the project, which began in 2008 and ended in 2010, was to develop mechanisms that detect when support for students and their families is needed - and to ensure that these students and families receive timely, relevant assistance. The project worked to improve co-operation between students, parents, schools and other local government institutions in order to solve various everyday issues regarding children and their families. It also helped educators cultivate a positive environment for co-operation within the family context.

Source: European Commission (2013a), Barcelona Objectives: The Development of Childcare Facilities for Young Children in Europe with a View to Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, documents/130531_barcelona_en.pdf.

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