The Republic of Croatia, situated at the intersection of Central and Southeast Europe, on the north-eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, is home to around 4 million people.
The Croatian War of Independence, which damaged the economic infrastructure also displaced a large proportion of the population. Following independence, wealth disparity grew in Croatia, leaving impoverished households poorer and many more at risk of poverty.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Croatia since 1992.
Parents struggle to afford preschool: in Croatia only 54% of children over 3 years attend formal early education programmes in Croatia. Attendance is closely linked to household income, with only one quarter of children of households who receive social assistance attending preschool.
Early childhood education can be particularly beneficial for disadvantaged children, setting them up for further stages of education and improving their prospects.
Approximately 21% of all people, and 18% of children under 18 years, are at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Croatia.
However, around 70% of the population is still only just managing to make ends meet, struggling to afford necessities.
Children from these families are less healthy than their peers and have little chance to access higher education. This limits their future prospects.
With a national unemployment rate 7%, Croatia’s young people are twice as likely to be unemployed, with a rate around 15%. Further, over 12% of young people are not in employment, education or training.
Many skilled workers move abroad, leaving a skills gap between those remaining and available jobs.
Youth unemployment is linked to long-term reductions in wages, increased chances of subsequent periods of unemployment, and poorer health and mental health outcomes.