Update: 12.09.2007

Child poverty in Switzerland: finally a national reaction?

The poverty and social exclusion of children and young people remains a largely “taboo” subject, despite reminders of welfare organisations such as Caritas or Children Lobby Switzerland. In a report presented end of August 2007, the Swiss Federal Commission for Children and Youth Affairs (CFEJ) denounced the growing precarious financial situation faced by young people and called for national action.

Lack of training leads to poverty

Figures from 2005 show that almost 45 percent of recipients dependent on social benefits in Switzerland are people under the age of 25. Factors leading to the dire social conditions are complex and multidimensional and often linked to difficult family situations. Among the groups most at risk are children whose parents are unemployed, those living in a single-parent family, children of immigrant parents or those who have more than two brothers and sisters, the report said. And 70 percent of young adults receiving social benefits had not completed vocational training, which seriously hampered their future.

National strategy to fight against youth poverty

“It is necessary to focus particular attention on children, with targeted measures”, said commission expert Chantal Ostorero. The CFEJ has proposed 55 recommendations, including making the government more responsible for assuring access to the workplace for young people and recommends establishing a national fund to finance vocational training. Appropriate family policies, allowing parents to juggle family and professional life, are also considered ways of fighting poverty and social exclusion. The commission is calling for a nationwide plan of action and urging politicians to treat the issue seriously.

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