4.1 General context
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According to the analysis for the National Strategy for Social Inclusion, probably the main challenge to social inclusion in Romania is poverty. Starting in 2009, young people have had the second highest poverty rate, being the main group affected by the economic crisis. In 2012, youths between 18 and 24 years old had an extremely high poverty rate, very close to the high risk of poverty experienced by children. What is worrying is that in the case of youths, the poverty rate increased significantly over time (by 7 percentage points during the 2008 to 2012 period). This increase may have been due to the growing vulnerability and risk of youths on the labour market during those years.
Roma have a much higher risk of being in poverty, irrespective of their age, education, or area of residence. Based on the national absolute poverty threshold measured using the consumption level from 2013, Roma citizens have a ten times higher risk of being poor than the rest of the population (the rate for the Roma population was 33% compared with only 3.4% for the whole population). What is worrying is that the poverty risk is extremely large for Roma children and young people - their poverty rate is 37.7%, while the national poverty rate is only 4.3%. Being young Roma are therefore at double risk.
In-work poverty affects one in two adults in Romania, including young adults. The large majority of in-work poor combine earnings with social protection transfers (80% of the total), the child allowances being the most common form of support.
Children and youth deprived of parental care and support are among the most vulnerable groups in Romania identified by research and strategic planning.
While during the 1990s the special protection system for children separated from their families have been the source of internationally known scandals in Romania, the conditions in the orphanages being outrageous, the system has been reformed in Romania over the last 15 years. Placement, foster families or small placement houses for children and young people under 18 separated by their families have been generally taken the place of large orphanages.
Social assistance law in Romania, other regulations and the entire system operate with the concept of ‘young people leaving the special protection system’, regarding to young people over 18 that are leaving any form of protection while separated from their parents, either by placement in the extended family (grandparents or other relatives), or by placement to foster families or to orphanages.
Acknowledging the fact that discrimination is one of the main causes that generate or maintain situations of exclusion and marginalization, the disadvantaged category is defined by the special law on combating discrimination as being that category of people who are either in a position of inequality compared to the majority’s situation, due to differences in identity or are facing rejection and marginalization when it comes to others’ behaviour. The vulnerable groups include: children at risk of poverty, vulnerability to social disintegration processes, juvenile delinquency; young people over 18 who are no longer covered by the family protection system; people with disabilities; persons belonging to the Roma population in high risk situations; the elderly in high risk situation and the homeless.