Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Every fifth child in Darmstadt lives from Hartz IV

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In Darmstadt, the influx is also noticeable for people with little money. Social Welfare Officer Akdeniz demands an increase in support for children and more participation.

The offspring of single parents are affected above all by child poverty.
(Archive photo: dpa)

DARMSTADT – Every fifth child in Darmstadt lives in a family dependent on Hartz-IV. The proportion of children and adolescents growing up in poverty has hardly changed in the past five years, despite the good economic situation. It was 20.3 percent at the end of 2014 and 19.9 percent at the end of 2019. This emerges from a new study on child poverty in Germany presented by the Bertelsmann Foundation on Wednesday.

According to Hesse, 13.6 percent of children under the age of 18 lived in families with benefits under Social Security Code II last year, compared to 14.1 percent in 2014. While their share in Darmstadt almost stagnated, there were some noticeable improvements in other cities in the Rhine-Main area. The proportion of children from poor families in Frankfurt fell from 21.5 to 17.7 percent, in Wiesbaden from 23.3 to 21.4 percent and in Offenbach from 33.9 to 24.5 percent. The lowest proportion of children who grow up in poor financial circumstances is in Fulda with 8.6 percent, the highest in Kassel with 26.2 percent. 42.4 percent of poor children and adolescents in Hessen grow up in single-parent families, compared to 45.2 percent in Germany.

The Bertelsmann Foundation describes combating child poverty as “one of the greatest social challenges in Germany”. She fears that the problem will worsen due to the economic crisis triggered by the corona pandemic. Child poverty has significant consequences for growing up, well-being, education and future opportunities for the children, it said. The foundation demands new social and family policy concepts, such as better security for their financial needs through participation fees or their own basic security.

Darmstadt’s Social Affairs Director Barbara Akdeniz (Greens) said when asked that the numbers were not a surprise. This is also shown in the urban social atlas. There is an “enormous influx to Darmstadt”. This would not only result in better earners, but also people with low incomes who were looking for a new home and a new job. In addition, Darmstadt had taken in numerous refugees in recent years, many of whom depend on basic security. In this respect, it was more of a positive surprise in the end that the percentage of poor children did not increase.

At the same time, the head of department pointed out that 30 percent of the so-called needs groups that receive benefits under Darmstadt Social Security Code II are employed but still need support. For example, she cited a family with three children and a father who works as a worker at Frankfurt Airport. “This is a serious problem,” criticized Akdeniz. Children in Darmstadt who are raised by only one parent are also particularly affected by poverty. Single parent households make up 23 percent of all households in Darmstadt.

“We cannot accept child poverty,” said the head of department. Despite the planned increase in rule rates in 2021, she advocated a further increase in support for children. The rates are too low and do not meet needs. Depending on the age, the rate is currently between 250 and 328 euros per month. In addition, better regulations are needed to ensure children’s social participation. In Darmstadt, the city offers a lot of programs and measures to increase the opportunities for poor children to take part, such as school social work, the participation card or a project that offers families and children access to daycare.

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