ELFAC Price 2016
Here are the awardees of the ELFAC prizes, handed out at the European Large Families Conference in Riga (Latvia) in August 2016.
THE GOVERNMENT OF POLAND
The Government of Poland receives the award for the Program Family 500+.
The Program is a tax-free provision of 500 zl per month (approx. 115 EUR) for each second and subsequent child, without additional conditions. Low-income families will receive support also for the first or only child. The benefit is given until the child is 18 years old. 2.7 million Polish families will be entitled to the payment, meaning that it cover 3.6 million children.
Primarily, the purpose of the planned monetary support is to reduce the financial burden of families associated with raising their children. According to statistics, as the result of the Program the number of children at risk of poverty will fall from 23% to 10.5%. The social group which will particularly profit from the program are the large families as benefit increases as the number of children in the family increases. In addition, the Program is aimed at tackling Poland’s deep demographic crisis.
The program Family 500+ is a breakthrough in Polish family policy, as it is the first widespread, systematic and direct financial support for families with children. It recognizes the economic value of family care and education. The great financial effort related to the implementation of the program is an investment in the development of the state.
The program was quickly and efficiently prepared and implemented by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy (the word ‘family’ has been added to the former name of the ministry by the current Government) and was launched in April 2016. The personal commitment and contributions of Mrs. Minister Elżbieta Rafalska is to be emphasized.
TRENTINO REGION (ITALY)
In a country with so low birth rates as is the case with Italy, Trentino decided to be increasingly attentive to the needs of families and younger generations. In March 2011, the Autonomous Province of Trento approved a law on family wellbeing and a few months later set up the Provincial Agency for the Family, Parenting and Youth Policies (PAF), which coordinates provincial policies in favour of families. The objective is to overcome aid-based approaches supporting families experiencing hardship and to develop a new line of policy promoting the dynamic and proactive role of family in society, based on the conviction that if family is stronger then society and economy also get stronger.
Trentino’s effort for large families includes contributions in tariffs, public transport, a bonus (from 55€ up to 1.165 per month for families with disabled children), third child and up have free access to medical services, special price and family tickets for public transport, special prices in access to several ski areas.
In the last years they have developed the label `Family friendly municipality’ with several measures to improve family wellbeing in the area. As a result of this policy, Trentino has now the highest fertility rate in Italy.
Trentino has shown a great openness to the Italian Large Families Association (ANFN) that cooperated to a great extent with the municipality. In 2016 Trentino and the ANFN signed an agreement for a three year plan to promote good practices of family wellbeing. Thus ANFN has become the main partner of Trentino to spread and develop its model in Italy.
Trentino has very clear ideas and a clear project that others can copy, as is already happening, because the underlying idea is good, simple, and effective.
MUNICIPALITY OF ALSÓMOCSOLÁD (HUNGARY)
Alsómocsolád is a small village with 300 inhabitants in the South of Hungary. It is a dead end on the road map. The municipality considers as its main task to keep the families in the village and to encourage families from outside to settle down in the village.
The village has a number of institutions and facilities which are quite usual in larger settlements but extremely rare in such a small place. These include a Village House with several facilities; a Forest School, a Home of Virtual Natural Sciences and a Forest Sports Ground, for children and youth. They have a Home of Elderly for permanent stay and a Club for Elderly where children of the village can also get meals. The village has no kindergarten or school because of the small number of children; it is the village caretaker service which transports children to and from school and to other programs in neighbouring settlements.
For every child born in Alsómocsolád, families get a so-called „life-path model” – this means, beside a certain amount of money given to the family at childbirth, following the child’s life, developing its abilities and talents in a person-tailored way. The village has a development program of competences of youth focusing on education to family life, with the aim of preparing the on-coming generation to a balanced way of life, to couple relation, to marital and parental tasks.
The municipality provides help for families who wish to settle down in Alsómocsolád towards building a house. Families living in hard social conditions get aid both in money and in kind. Alsómocsolád aims at as much self-sufficiency of the village as possible, producing safe food for the families which live here, keeping and passing on valuable traditions of farming and economy.
A „Future-Weaving Workshop” has been created in Alsómocsolád, whose task is to find feasible ways to reverse demographic decline, achieve that living in small villages be no longer considered as an eventual compulsion but as an honoured standing.
With all this they have started something which is spreading now among small villages in Hungary.
Godagimene.lv is the first and the only internet portal in Latvia directly focused on large families. It was opened on 25 March 2014, and since then it gathers and renews thematically diverse information intended for large families. The name ‘Goda ģimene’ means honourable family. The website includes educational articles, practical tips, articles on family health, ideas for leisure time, and inspiring family stories and experiences. Godagimene.lv also offers wide information on discounts for large families provided by supporters of the program, state and local government. In this family platform families are also able to express their views online, participate in various surveys, post suggestions, and even create their own forums.
The main goal of this internet portal is to inform large families on support measures and assistance to them from the state, local governments and entrepreneurs. Information on family NGO’s is also available, and different competitions and discussions are offered for families to stay active. The portal uses social networks (Facebook, Twitter) to be more visible and always available, and a broad 80 video collection reflects and inspires large families and partners of the program.
Godagimene.lv worked as a supporting tool for the Union of Latvian Large Family Associations in 2015 by publishing an international survey on European large families in the framework of the FamiliesAndSocieties project. We are proud that the small Latvia was the third most active country in Europe regarding participation in this project, and we will continue to be involved in family activities in the future.
Since the beginning of the portal, more than 2550 publications have been put on it and about 400 blogs created. There are nearly 4200 active users registered on the web page. The number of single visitors of the website reaches 11 400.
PROF. JOAQUIM AZEVEDO
Professor Joaquim Azevedo dedicated his life to teaching and education with a career with several nominations to positions in which he played an important role in Portuguese society, getting significant recognition and being distinguished as Grand Officer of the Order of Public Instruction (2009) and the Gold Medal of National Defense (2015).
In 2014 he was the coordinator of a major independent report called: “For a children, families and fertility friendly Portugal (2015-2035)”. This report has raised the attention to the dramatic Portuguese demographic situation and proposed an integrated plan for public policies in 7 different areas: Social and Political Commitment, More Fiscal Justice, More Family-Friendly Work Policies, More Education and Social Solidarity, More Health, More Local Policies and Public Facilitators for these policies.
The report highlighted the need for policies to be integrated, universal, coherent, stable, and taking into account the different contexts in which families live their daily lives. Many of the measures proposed were directly connected to a fairer treatment for large families, and many were adopted.
This broad set of measures that were actually implemented constituted the first plan put to action to reverse the demographic Portuguese winter in several years.
As a result, fertility is rising in Portugal since 2014 with more 2.600 births just in the first semester of 2016 and, more important, while the measures have been in place, with a fairer treatment for families with children in general and for large families in particular.