Governments are pressing for strengthening the social protection of children


Between 2016 and 2020, another 50 million boys and girls aged 15 and under will miss out on child benefits, bringing the global total to 1.46 billion.

Increased risk of hardship

The coverage of child and family benefits fell or stagnated in every region of the world according to the report during this period.

Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, saw a significant drop in coverage, from about 51 percent to 42 percentwhile rates in Central and South Asia remained around 21 percent.

If children do not receive adequate social protection, they are vulnerable to hardships such as poverty, disease, malnutrition and increased risk of child marriage, warned the UN agencies.

They said children are twice as likely as adults live in extreme poverty and live on less than $1.90 a day – a reality for approximately 356 million young people worldwide.

Learning from the pandemic

Further, a billion children live in “multidimensional poverty”, meaning they have no access to education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water. Grades rose 15 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, reversing progress in reducing child impoverishment.

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of social protection in times of crisis, according to the report.

While almost every government either expanded existing schemes or introduced new measures to support children and families, most lagged behind permanent reforms protect against future shocks.

Expand and invest

Natalia Winder-Rossi, UNICEF Director of Social Policy and Social Protection, said universal child benefit can be a lifeline amid growing economic hardship, food insecurity, conflict and climate-related disasters.

“There is an urgent need strengthen, expand and invest in child-friendly and shock-resistant social protection systems. This is essential to protect children from living in poverty and to build resilience, especially among the poorest households,” she added.

For children and families

The report urges policymakers to take action for universal social protection for all children, including by investing in benefits it offers proven and cost-effective ways to combat child poverty.

Authorities are also advised to provide child benefits through national social protection systems that do the same connecting families to vital health and social servicessuch as free or affordable high-quality childcare.

Other recommendations include securing sustainable funding for schemes by mobilizing domestic resources and increase the budget for childrenand strengthening social protection for parents and carers, including through ensure access to decent work And adequate employee benefits.

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