A quality country needs decent services for the most vulnerable children, by Rafael Ruiz de Gauna

According data from the Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya (Idescat), The risk of child poverty in Catalonia (a relative indicator that measures households whose income is below 60% of the average state income) stood at 33.4% in 2020 (when this index in the average of the population is of 21.7%). During the pandemic, this data has increased 2.3 points. In other words, some 385,000 children under 16 years of age suffer from this reality. Each one with their personal history and their limitations.

Address this issue it should be a priority for governments and society. We cannot mortgage the growth of our children. For reasons of justice, but also for the full development of a country that we want of human quality and economically competitive.

One of the mechanisms available to governments to improve this situation is to promote socio-educational accompaniment beyond school. The educational leisure It is one of these spaces in which the inequality of educational opportunities is repeatedly verified, and this has been denounced by various agents, such as the Sindicatura de Greuges. Some inequalities that intensify especially in the vacation periods, in which not everyone can enjoy ‘casals’, colonies or camps.

On the other hand, the social services law contemplate a device, open centers or socio-educational intervention services, of municipal competence, which allows to address after school the accompaniment of minors from families derived mainly from social services (primary care). It’s a preventive resource that tries to alleviate deficits in social competences so that the situation is not accentuated and improves. In these spaces, activities are carried out, such as educational reinforcement, workshops and leisure activities, and work with families, with a individualized follow-up. They become in many cases trust and safety spaces for girls and boys and for their families.

However, these programs are extremely precarious. In the first place, due to the administrative situation of a part of the social initiative centers, which still depend on annual subsidies, which are convened late and are resolved hopefully in the summer, when it comes to a guaranteed service. Second, because of the fees that are paid per minor / year. There are studies of the sector and of the administration itself that place this price at 3,500 euros / place per year, but overall municipalities with the contribution of the Generalitat barely reach 2,000 euros per year.

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And on the other hand, by the unstable employment situation of workers. Educators have part-time shifts, around 25 hours a week, with an agreement with conditions that are too tight, which does not allow them to live with quality. They are professionals with university degrees or higher-level training cycles and this precariousness leads them to double jobs or a high turnover in search of other more stable jobs. The changes hinder the educational action in children who need positive references and generate lasting bonds.

A quality and fair country urgently needs serve the most vulnerable people of all groups, with services, programs and decent conditions for those professionals who are on the front line. And not only in the health or educational field, but also in social services, and obviously for all workers.


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