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Alarming numbers: Every fifth minor in Bonn beneath the poverty threshold

Alarming numbers : Every fifth minor in Bonn beneath the poverty threshold

11,605 children and adolescents and their families in Bonn are dependent on Hartz IV benefits, a financial support program for the unemployed. The number rose in comparison to the previous year again.

The level of child poverty in Bonn is continuously alarming. According to statistics published by the Jobcenter, 11,605 children under 18 years of age are living in „needs units“ - families who are dependent on transfer payments/aid money - said youth welfare office leader Udo Stein in an interview with the General-Anzeiger. The numbers show an increase of four percent.

There are 1,725 more children living in poverty situations now than in 2007. Stein traces this back to the phenomenon of a „rich society“, which could not be resolved despite applying considerable resources. As EU definition, a person is at risk of empoverishment if it has less than 60 percent of the medium income of the population. „The poverty line for a family of four in 2017 in North Rine-Westphalia is currently 1,987 Euro per month“, Stein explains.

This means that currently a fifth of all minors in Bonn are poor or threatened by impoverishment, claim Jean Pierre Schneider and Ulrich Hamacher, directors of the Caritas and the Diakonie associations in Bonn. „No effective measures have been decided on by politicians on regional or federal levels to help families and their children to improve financially and lower their level of educational disadvantages.“

The economic upturn does not help the poor. The lower income did not really rise. Child support is being deducted from Hartz IV recipients’ payments, so an increase in child support shows no effect, say Schneider and Hamacher. „Other family-related benefits and tax relief plans are not, or only slightly, helping those families.“

Poverty means social exclusion

As a result, children of single parents, or from families with many children, have the highest risk of poverty, said Stin. They are therefore particularly hit by housing shortages in Bonn, because they have to compete with more solvent families for the same apartments/flats where they often lose out. Schneider and Hamacher call this „inherited poverty“. „Children, who were born into a poverty situation, have practically no chance to get out of this situation.“

The health care for them can mostly not exceed the required check-ups. „Poor children have less social contact, because they cannot keep up: Who would go to a children’s birthday party if they can’t afford a present or can never invite the others to his or hers?“ Poverty leads to social exclusion, the two directors are convinced. „Poverty threatens educational success and therefore chances on the job market.“

Making future prospects possible

The most important aim for politicians, authorities and the many institutions, organisations and facilities in Bonn is to be obligated to help children in their future prospects, regardless of their background and social situation, according to Stein.

The city council’s opportunities lay in offering educational prospects from kindergarten places for under-three-year-olds, school, after-school lunch support and adult education.

The round table against children and family poverty in Bonn has issued a demands paper, proposing effective measure on federal, regional and communal levels, said Schneider and Hamacher. „Part of these demands are the introduction of a basic provision for children in the shape of 500 Euro per month, better equipment for the kindergartens, schools and youth workers with a focused support on disadvantaged children.“

(Original text: Ebba Hagenberg-Miliu, Translation: Mareike Graepel)