In December, the roundtable Together for a Better Future in Vulnerable Communities, organized by the Reality Check Association and hosted by the Ministry of Education, was attended by government and local authority representatives from the two communities where we have been implementing integrated education-focused projects for several years: Coroieni (Ponorâta), Maramureș county and Castelu, Constanta county.

We drew some conclusions together at the end of the projects and discussed how we can continue to help disadvantaged communities access social, educational and health services more effectively.

Here are some conclusions from the roundtable:

  1. Financial support from the national budget is needed so that local authorities can employ enough specialists for a functioning integrated team – social worker, community health worker, school mediator and ideally school counselor and health mediator. The Ministry of Labour has responded to local problems with the Integrated Community Services programme, which will be extended until summer 2023.
  2. The role of school counselors and school mediators is very important in all schools, but especially in disadvantaged communities. The Ministry of Education aims to increase their number through the new education law.
  3. The lack of social services at local and county level worsens the situation of disadvantaged people. The Ministry of Education’s Complementary Services Programme could help to redress some of this by organizing services at the local level for preschool children.
  4. The ANPDCA proposes the National Observatory programme, a database of children at social risk, accessible to all the ministries involved, to be implemented with the Law on the Prevention of Separation of Children from their Families (still in draft form).
  5. We will continue discussions with the Ministry of the Interior on finding solutions to the complex problems related to the lack of identity documents in these communities.
  6. It remains a constant concern for all institutions to find solutions to the problem of underage mothers, especially as the trend is for the age at which they give birth to their first child to decrease.

The meeting was attended by: Sorin Ion (Secretary of State, Ministry of Education), Marian Daragiu, (Subsecretary of State, Ministry of Education), Elena Dobre (Director of Social Services Policies, Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity), Adina Codreș (Counselor in the Policies, Strategies and International Cooperation Service, ANPDCA), Claudia Benchescu (Subsecretary of State of the Ministry of Interior), Octavia Borș (Advisor to the Minister of Education), Crina Puie (Director of the Subsecretary of State’s Office), Antoneta Prodan (Deputy Mayor of Castelu Commune), Liana Lazăr (Director of Coroieni Secondary School), Elena Tuns (Social Assistant at Coroieni Town Hall), Mihaela Sandu (Hands Across Romania) and representatives of Reality Check.