Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19

Social protection in Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

By UNICEF (August 2020)

Author(s): Dominic Richardson; Victor Cebotari; Alessandro Carraro; Kaku Attah Damoah

Discussions around the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and its impacts and costs are moving swiftly from health concerns to economic and social concerns. The ways in which countries are dealing with COVID-19 itself, through social lockdowns and school closures, are expected to have wide-ranging social and economic costs and governments have responded with rapid implementation of fiscal stimulus and social protection reforms.

COVID-19 is a global health crisis, with severe economic consequences, impacting countries and continents in waves, and therefore is – with the exception of the Spanish Flu in 1918 – without a recent comparator. Necessarily this means that experience with, and evidence for, dealing with such a crisis is limited.

Acknowledging that health, economic, and social crises can rapidly become a crisis for children, this paper seeks to contribute evidence to understanding what the crisis means for children and for families with children in the countries of Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In particular, what governments and stakeholders should be looking for when seeking to protect children from the worst outcomes of the crisis. In doing so, this paper asks: Through which mechanisms can COVID-19 affect children in the region? What can we learn from previous crises about the potential effects on children and those who care for children? How is vulnerability to poverty and child well-being likely to be affected? Are initial government responses to the crisis likely to worsen or mitigate risks to children’s well-being? And how might future public policies be optimized in the short and medium term to protect child outcomes?

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