96% of families with children from 0 to 6 years assisted by the Red Cross are at risk of poverty and social exclusion


The Red Cross today presented the Bulletin on Social Vulnerability No. 22, ‘Early Childhood upbringing’.

The study analyzes the social vulnerability of families with children from 0 to 6 years old attended by the organization and the impact that COVID-19 and the different risk factors have in the areas of employment, income, health, housing, support networks, access to social protection, etc. have in parenting.

“Between 0 and 6 years of life there takes place a stage of human development that is decisive for the future of the person. The worrying data produced by this Red Cross study confront us with a harsh reality about how the social vulnerability and poverty of families condition the parenting context ” , explains Toni Bruel, general coordinator of the Spanish Red Cross during today’s presentation of the Bulletin on Social Vulnerability nº 22, ‘Parenting in Early Childhood’ .

This study, carried out in collaboration with the Carlos III University, shows that the situation, already serious before the pandemic, has substantially worsened in the current context. Thus, 96% of households are at risk of poverty and social exclusion and 54% experience severe material deprivation. In addition, 83% of families are in extreme poverty and three out of four households cannot afford health expenses for their sons and daughters such as glasses, hearing aids or co-payments.

On the other hand, 31.3% cannot afford a protein meal 3 times a week, and 52.2% experience energy poverty.

55% of the people served are unemployed and nearly 40% of households have all their members unemployed. 90% of the people who have jobs are working poor.

“This impact of precariousness –indicates Toni Bruel- generates, on the one hand, anguish for not being able to meet basic expenses of the sons and daughters but, in addition, it forces families to have to choose between the coverage of basic needs and other needs relevant to child development ” .

In relation to the housing conditions of these families, we can say that 22% are in residential exclusion (they live temporarily with relatives or friends, are occupying homes, are in temporary accommodation or shelters or are threatened with eviction – 4% – ).

In addition, 61% have many or enough difficulties to face the payments of the house such as rents, mortgages or services, and 41% of the houses are in unhealthy conditions (humidity, lack of light, noise, pollution and dirt in the environment…).

Regarding co-responsibility in caring for children, the data show the impact of gender: upbringing falls mainly on women, in 63% of cases only on the mother and in 29% on both parents. Women spend between 2 and 10 hours a day more caring than men. More than 55% of women indicate that this dedication influences their employment possibilities.

“We are especially concerned that the Red Cross study shows that the stress generated by poverty can weaken the emotional support that adult referents must offer to children in this phase of development,” highlights Toni Bruel. 

3 out of 4 people feel worried or stressed and more than half consider that their sons and daughters notice the stress they suffer.

Furthermore, in cases where gender-based violence exists, it has a devastating impact and considerably compromises the emotional well-being of mothers and children. 

In relation to social protection, it should be noted that 10% of families do not receive any financial assistance. 42% receive a dependent child benefit. The substitution of this benefit for the Minimum Living Income is not being automatic (which generates great vulnerability). Only 15.3% are beneficiaries of the social bonus, which highlights the barriers to access to protection measures against energy poverty.

Finally, the general coordinator of the Red Cross trusts that this study, which investigates the situation of vulnerability of families with children from 0 to 6 years old, can offer relevant information to all the actors involved in the response to parenting from the public administrations, social agents, third sector and academia.

About the Red Cross Own Reports

The Red Cross periodically prepares social research and publishes reports and newsletters in which it analyzes in depth different aspects of the vulnerability of the people it works with. Usually 4 reports are presented per year, in which topics such as energy poverty, digital exclusion, the relationship between poverty and health or the impact of Covid-19 are analyzed.

Red Cross represents the largest humanitarian, citizen and independent movement in the world that has been collaborating with public and private entities for 156 years so that humanity and dignity reach all people in any place and at all times and circumstances. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Red Cross has been acting in all affected countries of the world, representing the largest mobilization of resources, capacities and people in its history in favor of the most vulnerable people and the general population.

Red Cross has more than 250,000 volunteers and more than 1,400 points of care throughout the territory, which allow it to annually serve more than 4 million people nationwide, of which more than 1.7 million are served from social programs. With the support of +1,360,000 partners, companies and allies. 

Red Cross belongs to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement present in 192 countries. Always acting under its seven Fundamental Principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Character, Unity and Universality.

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