Volkshilfe – Essential Child Support

2nd Prize 2020

Country: Austria

Region: implemented nationwide

Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy

Fields of action: Poverty, Adult education, Family

Project owner: Volkshilfe Österreich

Responsible person: Mag.a (FH) Judith Ranftler, MA

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Challenge

Every fifth child in Austria is at risk of poverty. Child poverty is not only the lack of material goods – children living in poverty are also at risk of exclusion. Volkshilfe Austria developed this financial model of child support to ensure that a child’s development and future do not depend on the income of their parents.

Idea

Volkshilfe Kindergrundsicherung (“Volkshilfe – Essential Child Support”) aims to abolish child poverty in Austria. Through our programme, families affected by poverty receive a monthly child benefit stipend based on the family‘s income (max. 625 EUR) for two years. Parents decide together with their children their financial and personal goals. Social workers document the changes of the stipend on the children.

Actors

Volkshilfe Kindergrundsicherung works together with families in poverty and their children. The programme also works with Austrian and German worker welfare organizations to reach the national and regional governments. Dr. Nikolaus Dimmel (lawyer and sociologist) is also a research partner to analyse and monitor the programme’s long-term effects.

Impact

After three months in the pilot project, the children in the programme feel a greater sense of self-confidence and self-empowerment. Children who hardly communicated suddenly made eye contact, spoke more often, and expressed their needs. In the words of the children: "We all now laugh more" or "I can even buy a snack and be my own boss in the shop."

Transfer

Volkshilfe is currently implementing a pilot project to determine the effects of this financial and social child support. We aim to introduce this child support model as a state benefit throughout Austria. This model can be implemented in all of Austria and is also affordable as a social benefit.

Appreciation of the Jury

Volkshilfe Kindergrundsicherung reveals the consequences and outcomes of financial security supported by research to alleviate poverty from the perspective of a child. The project combines an experimental approach and concrete assistance with political lobbying to end child poverty. This socially innovative solution is one of a kind (and) extensive. The programme helps to end intergeneration cycles of social marginalisation rooted in poverty. The underlying assumptions have been confirmed: Poor children and their families know exactly what and how to spend their extra money. The social impact is rapid, and it can be financed.