Breaking the Poverty Cycle: Early Child Development and Parents’ Employment - Katymar
Social support of disadvantage/Roma, supported employment
Katymár is a village in Southern Hungary, which faces the issues of poverty and long-term unemployment. In order to increase the most disadvantaged families’standard of life – predominantly Roma people –the local government within the framework of Sure Start programme established Biztos KezdetGyermekház (Sure Start Child Centre) in 2005 as a place for families with small children providing services both for children and parents. The child centre offers early education, parent—children play sessions, health and family support, etc. Simultaneously the municipality began the Szociális Földprogram (Social Land Programme), which targeted families in need and used the child centre as a means to draw attention to the programme and raise interests among the attending families.
The latter program is intended to increase economic activities by promoting agricultural activities and ensuring all necessary conditions for the practise. The main purpose was to inspire and activate people, to influence the perception of children on the values of working and provide positive examples. The municipality succeeded to further intertwine the two projects as the involved families can meet, discuss and give pieces of advice to each other in the child centre.
In 2011 a new programme was set off devoted to facilitate transit employment for longterm unemployed in micro-region of Bácska. The re-qualification courses aimed at community service type jobs, therefore they corresponded with the labour force demands of municipalities – mostly concerning building industry, maintenance and gardening. In each municipality there is one mentor who is responsible to help the re-qualified employees. Another project aiming to increase employment and create a self-sustaining community offers courses on cultivation and stock raising. The municipality plans to establish a Social Shop and a counselling centre to facilitate the sale of the products. The mentioned child centre ensures child-care while parents are working. Recently in January 2012 an integration project was inaugurated targeting families facing multiple disadvantages.
The programme incorporates counselling services to improve life leadership and learning competences. The main purpose is to increase solidarity and enhance cooperation and mutual help within the community.
The municipality successfully integrated the projects to cope with the challenges of poverty and unemployment. Unfortunately, Katymár can be considered rather as an exceptional municipality and their approach tends to be rare in Hungary.