Early education can help lift children out of poverty and family dysfunction, and contribute to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 European Platform against Poverty.”
European Commission Communication, 17 February 2011
A central part of OvidiuRo’s(OvR) strategy is to raise awareness in the business community and in the general public of the importance of early education for Romania’s disadvantaged children. But equally important is bringing it to the attention of policy makers.
On average, 80% of the most impoverished children from 43 communities in 11 counties come to gradinita on a daily basis, which is, sometimes, twice or three times more children compared to the years prior to implementing Fiecare Copil in Gradinita(FCG).This is a major change on the part of the parents and a major increase in the total number of kids in preschool in these poor rural communities.
It has happened due to a variety of factors but the key one is that parents living under the poverty line receive food coupons (tichete sociale) of 50 lei per month contingent on their child’s daily attendance in gradinita.
This program gives education a new meaning for the poorest people in Sibiu. It’s not an abstraction anymore, but something that they are directly experiencing–a chance that nobody gave them before. This is why I hope it will become public policy, available for all poor children.”
Dorel Baila, Sibiu School Inspector
In February 2014, the Cluj County Council was the first to allocate public funds to cover the cost of conditional food coupons for 100 poor children. In February 2015, they doubled the funding to cover coupons for 200 children in nine low-income communities. The County Social Services and Child Protection Department manages the program, with assistance from OvR and in partnership with the County School Inspectorate.
In September 2014, the program expanded to 13 new communities in three counties: Brașov, Dolj and Dâmbovița. An EEA Grant through the NGO Fund in Romania (the “2014 European Economic Area Funds grant from Norway, Iceland & Liechtenstein) provided funds to extend to six new communities in partnership with county and local authorities; seven other communities were made possible through the support of Raiffeisen and Carrefour Foundation.
An Inter-ministerial Task Force for Early Education comprised of Ministries of Education, Labor, European Funds & Finance plus county and local authorities is created to prepare the way for scaling up FCG.