universal child benefitsPoverty among children is at a considerably higher rate than that of adults. Around the world, an estimated 660 million children live in some form of poverty. Approximately 390 million of those children live in extreme poverty, surviving on under $2 a day. One of the ways global child poverty can be reduced is through social protection programs instituted by governments. However, only one in three impoverished children are receiving some form of family or child benefits. Universal child benefits have recently been discussed as an effective approach to address global child poverty and achieve several Sustainable Development Goals.

6 Facts About Universal Child Benefits:

  1. Child benefits are initiated by social protection programs and come in the form of monthly grants, tax transfers, school meals, skills development and other programs. These social protection programs aim to provide financial support to underprivileged families and help them connect with crucial resources such as food and healthcare in an effort to aid their children and to help them escape poverty.
  2. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, social protection is a right that all children possess. However, approximately 1.3 billion children lack any type of social protection. This prevents many children from gaining access to cash support.
  3. There are several reasons why many children do not have access to social protection. In many cases, families that live in remote areas or are affected by natural disasters, wars and other conflicts aren’t able to receive these critical resources and services because they are harder to reach. In other cases, governments may not allocate enough funding towards these social protection programs. If governments do, however, the funding is not distributed equally to programs providing food, health and education.
  4. UNICEF is calling for the establishment of universal child benefits which aims to make available cash or tax transfers to improve the wellbeing of children living under poverty around the world. UNICEF is currently working in over 150 countries to help develop social protection programs. They have partnered with governments and other organizations that work to deliver national social welfare programs and cash transfers to as many underprivileged families as possible.
  5. According to a report published by UNICEF and the Overseas Development Institute, if universal child benefits were to be established in low to middle-income countries, it would lead to an overall 20% decline in global poverty. This is proven with child benefits in higher-income countries which has resulted in an average 5% reduction of child poverty.
  6. Universalising child benefits is important because it helps make vital resources available to families who may be excluded from national social programs and reduces errors that may exclude many families in need. Moreover, universal child benefits are effective in times of emergencies such as the ongoing pandemic where families are now vulnerable more than ever due to the economic fallout. In addition to this, the establishment of universal child benefits prevents various stigmas associated with benefits in general.

The implementation of universal child benefits will require the cooperation of all countries. Without global support, it will be difficult to establish universal child benefits in poorer countries with large populations because these governments do not have the capital to effectively carry out these programs. Universal child benefits may be key to solving child poverty. It will help give millions of poor families around the world a chance to provide a better future for their children.

Abbas Raza
Photo: Flickr