Romania, at the intersection of central and south-eastern Europe, has a population of around 19 million people.
Ethnic Hungarians account for nearly 9% of the country’s inhabitants. Although officially, roughly 3% of the population are Roma, studies estimate this group constitute almost 10% of the people living in Romania.
Around 55% of inhabitants reside in urban centres, with the remaining 45% living in rural communities.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Romania since 1993.
Almost a quarter of the population lives under the nationally established poverty line. However, children are disproportionately affected, with more than 36% at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and more than 21% living below the poverty line.
Children who live in poverty face long-term consequences for their life as adults, in terms of educational outcomes, physical and intellectual development, as well as their psychological health and well-being.
More than 20% of children are not enrolled in pre-primary education. In addition, many public, early education settings only open for a limited number of hours, mostly only 4 hours a day, with those open for longer experiencing overcrowding.
Children from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to participate in pre-primary education. For these children, early education can strongly contribute to their social and cognitive development, as well as their social inclusion.
More than 14% of families cannot afford adequately nutritious meals for their children.
For larger families and single parent households, around 30% of children are not able to have a nutritious meal every second day.
Undernourishment and malnutrition in children have multiple effects. They can include an inability to concentrate in school and poor cognitive function, as well as poor growth and development. They can also result in a weakened immune system, resulting in illness and disease.