4.4 Inclusive programmes for young people
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“The National Programme for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Updated for 2021-2027, public policy for years up to 2030 (Krajowy Program Przeciwdziałania Ubóstwu i Wykluczeniu Społecznemu. Aktualizacja 2021–2027, polityka publiczna z perspektywą do roku 2030) should be considered a key document organising issues related to combating youth exclusion. It is a continuation and update of the programme accepted in 2014: “The National Programme for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2020. A New Dimension of Active Inclusion” (Krajowy Program Przeciwdziałania Ubóstwu i Wykluczeniu Społecznemu 2020. Nowy wymiar aktywnej integracji).
It includes the main goal of reducing poverty and social exclusion, as well as increasing access to services in response to demographic challenges (as outlined in one of the specific goals of the Strategy for the Development of Human Capital 2030). One of the priorities is Priority I: combating poverty and social exclusion among children and youth. The priority includes following actions: development of community services supporting the family, as well as care and educational services for children; ensuring food security as one of the forms of help for families, children and youth; financial support for families with children; developing the care function of kindergartens, schools (in coordination with the local community); strengthening education of children and youth in key areas such as creativity, entrepreneurship, and cooperation; improving the vocational education model, including higher education, as well as promoting vocational education in response to the labour market demands; introducing a comprehensive system of first employment for youth, based on cooperation between educational institutions, the labour market, and the society.
As a whole, it mostly focuses on the socialisation and early-intervention function of the school, modernisation of the education system (focus on developing key competences, creativity, entrepreneurship and co-operation), improvement and promotion of vocational training, and implementation of the first job system.
The National Programme for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion attaches particular importance to supporting children in families at risk of poverty or social exclusion, young people having problems with entering the labour market (NEET) and young people with disabilities (with unmet needs for rehabilitation and medical care, and problems with participation in education). Those target groups only partially correspond with the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027, which identifies specific categories of young people at risk of exclusion on the grounds of ethnic background, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion and political views. The document also states that there is a correlation between social and economic exclusion and exclusion from political and democratic life. An additional difficulty in identifying target groups is the fact that the Polish social security system generally does not make a distinction based on age, but on the specific problem when categorising citizens eligible for social support (subject to certain conditions). Young people are included across those categories.
According to the analysed documents, the main governmental entity responsible for counteracting youth exclusion is the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. The specific actions described in the documents in question are tied to partners being provincial or local authorities, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health.
Funds for the implementation of the “The National Programme for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Updated for 2021-2027, public policy for years up to 2030” (Krajowy Program Przeciwdziałania Ubóstwu i Wykluczeniu Społecznemu. Aktualizacja 2021–2027, polityka publiczna z perspektywą do roku 2030) have been earmarked in the State budget, budgets of local government units, special-purpose funds (PFRON, The Labour Fund, programmes of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy) and European funds (primarily from Regional Operational Programmes, the Knowledge Education Development Operational Programme and its succesor, European Funds for Social Development, and sometimes other schemes such as the Operational Programme Food Aid, or the National Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund.
The Programme includes a financial plan, but only indicatively; it is noted that there is no way to determine the scope of expenditures in coming years. Within Priority I (combating poverty and social exclusion among children and youth), specific expenditures have only been noted with regards to two tasks (out of the total of seven described). Regarding task 1.1 (development of community services supporting the family, as well as care and educational services for children), 458 million PLN have been budgeted for year 2021, 550 million for 2022, and 300 million for subsequent years. However, those funds do not include the resources of the Labour Fund. Furthermore, because of the planned process of deinstitutionalizing the fosterage system, it is impossible to predict the scope of expenditures. For task 1.2 (ensuring food security as one of the forms of help for families, children and youth) the 2021 budget provided 510 000 PLN. Further funds were supposed to be provided from the FEAD fund, but they have not been clearly determined.
Regarding the The National Programme for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Updated for 2021-2027, public policy for years up to 2030 (Krajowy Program Przeciwdziałania Ubóstwu i Wykluczeniu Społecznemu. Aktualizacja 2021–2027, polityka publiczna z perspektywą do roku 2030), there are no indicators describing the situation of young adults, as most of them describe either children, or the whole population. The only indicator which, to a degree, describes the situation of young adults is the rate of youth at risk of poverty or social exclusion between the ages 0 to 17 (AROPE). The source here is the data from EUROSTAT/EU-SIL. The base value was indicated to be 16% (for the year 2019); no expected value for 2030 was indicated, only that it should be decreased. It was also indicated that within the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, a task force for the enactment of the Programme is supposed to be created, including all stakeholders, including representatives of the civil society and social actors, central administration, and local and municipal governments.