Child Poverty and Social Protection



10–11 September 2013



Grand Sahid Jaya, Jakarta - Indonesia


Supported by UNICEF Indonesia, the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), and The SMERU Research Institute



Terms of Reference




1. Background


Poverty affects people of all ages, but children are the single most affected group. Children living in poverty experience deprivation, exclusion, and vulnerability. They face multidimensional circumstances that create life-long difficulties for gaining access to their basic rights. Poverty also denies children their rights and deprives them of their physical, psychological, and intellectual development. Effects of deprivation in childhood are irreversible and child poverty can lead to poverty in adulthood, i.e., intergenerational-transmission. In addition, poverty is one of the root causes of violent cases, exploitation, abuse, and neglect of children—i.e., child labour, trafficking, sexual exploitation, child marriage. Children experience poverty both in individual and household aspects. At the individual level, children are deprived of access to primary health, nutrition, and education while at the household level they share poverty experience with other members of family in terms of poor sanitation, family shelter, income, safe drinking water, etc. The multiple poverty experienced by children obviously calls for special care and protection for them in order to ensure they get the rights they are capable to have. Since children comprise a significant proportion of the world’s population, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has specifically acknowledged many states’ commitment to fulfil children’s rights. The Convention is the first legally binding international convention to promote and protect children’s rights by involving parents, family, institutions, international communities, and the state.


Although the discussion on poverty has been revealed in various research, actions and policies, major discussion on poverty reduction heavily lies on income and consumption approaches, yielding policy framework that is predominantly adult centric. In 2000 UNICEF published “Poverty Reduction Begins with Children” and argued that poverty reduction must begin with protection and realization of children’s rights since children are a form of investment for achieving equitable and sustainable human rights development (Vandermoortele, 2000). Childhood is a rapid physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Childhood, however, is also one of the most vulnerable times in the life cycle. Children as individuals, members of household, as well as citizens are inextricably linked to the well-being of a society. In order to break the inter-generational transmission of poverty, a country or even a region needs to invest in children.


Social protection is one way to reduce poverty and protect the people, including children, from falling into worse deprivation. It has gained substantial attention during the last decade as part of actions to reduce poverty and the vulnerability of the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. Social protection is defined as a set of public and private policies and programs aimed at preventing, reducing, and eliminating economic and social vulnerabilities to poverty and deprivation (UNICEF, 2012).  Globally, social protection has become central in the endeavour to reduce poverty worldwide and is one of the focuses of UN interventions. In 2009, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board, in response to the global economic crisis, launched the Social Protection Floor Initiative which is co-led by the ILO and WHO. The report titled “Social Protection Floor for Fair and Inclusive Globalization”, was used as an advocacy document for the G20 discussions on social protection. The document aims to ensure that the progress for children is achieved in an equitable manner by helping the most vulnerable children to have their rights fulfilled. The framework makes the case for investing in social protection for children, and demonstrates how social protection is a cross-cutting tool with the potential to complement investments across sectors, resulting in more equitable outcomes.


The 1997/1998 crisis was the main impetus for many countries in the world to develop various social protection schemes as models of market-led development. Some of the social protection schemes directly or indirectly target children both in rural and urban areas. They can have several components which include social transfers, program to access services, support and care, as well as formulation of certain regulation. In countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam have provided health insurance and education stipend for poor families. Cash transfer programs, either conditional or unconditional, have been implemented in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam.  In Thailand, children get benefits through income security; while in India, some of the social protection programs provide scholarships for children in rural areas.


UNICEF (2012) argues that a child-sensitive social protection can help address the age-sensitive and multidimensional vulnerabilities of children while also strengthening capabilities of families and households to care for their children. In Vietnam, among others, social protection is supported through professionalization of social work. The government noticed the potential role of social workers during delivery of social assistance, thus since 2012 a program on National Programme on Development of Social Work as Profession was established. This program provides training for social workers on various functions such as raising the awareness of community, assisting families to receive benefits, and filing complaints from the field.


In Indonesia, concerns on social protection as a poverty reduction strategy have been growing since the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis. The Government of Indonesia (GoI) has shown its commitment by passing some social protection laws, including Law No. 23/2002 on Child Protection, Law No. 40/2004 on National Social Security System, Law No. 11/2009 on Social Welfare, and Law No. 13/2011 on Services for the Poor. At the time of crisis, GoI with support from several international agencies initiated social safety net programs covering food security, health, education, and employment creation. The first three programs involved children nutritional status and children’s health as well as prevent children from dropping out of school and keep them off street. These programs are continued and modified into three clusters of anti-poverty programs, i.e., social assistance, community empowerment, and microenterprises empowerment. The social assistance cluster aims at reducing the economic burden of the poor by providing social assistance schemes on food security, healthcare, unconditional cash transfer, conditional cash transfer, and scholarship. Most programs in this cluster target children as their beneficiaries, although they are also indirectly targeted in other clusters. Indonesia’s PKH, for example, is an alternative poverty reduction strategy focusing on improving the education and health of poor families, especially women and children. Other programs related to children welfare, such as those for neglected children and children shelter supervision, have also been implemented. However, challenges to the successful implementation of these schemes have yet to be dealt with, including program designs, targeting, data updating, coordination among implementing institutions, and distribution.


Although it is argued that social protection helps increase households’ capacity to take care of their family members and overcome barriers to accessing services, many questions remain whether social protection reaches the poorest of the poor or the most vulnerable element in the society. Barriers still tend to remain, even when services and national human development averages improve. Many questions remain in efforts to strengthen and expand integrated social protection system. In global context there are still debates whether coverage of social protection should be universal or targeted, or whether cash transfers should be conditional or unconditional.


This conference, jointly organized by Bappenas, UNICEF Indonesia, and The SMERU Research Institute, is a venue to discuss and exchange experiences of social protection program implementation and researches among policymakers, researchers, and other agencies (international organizations and NGOs) in regard to improving policies and their delivery. Through presentations and publication of selected policy papers and posters, the conference will produce numerous policy recommendations to be used in support of evidence-based policy.


2. Objectives


The objectives of the conference on “Social Protection and Child Poverty” are:

o   To bring together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to discuss problems, disseminate learning, and share international lessons-learned, existing policy research, and studies on various social protection schemes which, in particular, impact children;

o   To provide evidence-based recommendations and policy advocacy for relevant government ministries/agencies, Bappenas, and development partners on child-sensitive social protection programs and provide input for program improvement and new initiatives;

o   To publish the conference results for relevant stakeholders and the general public as part of information dissemination and advocacy towards social protection and child poverty;

o   To strengthen and expand the Jaringan Peduli Anak Indonesia (Research and Evaluation Network on Child Issues in Indonesia), which consists of Indonesian researchers, government officials and policymakers, NGOs/CSOs, as well as practitioners.  


3. Themes


The papers will be presented in parallel sessions based on the themes below, all taking into account children at the center of discussion:

a.         Dimensions of poverty

b.        Child-sensitive social protection  and poverty reduction

c.         Inclusive social protection

d.        Integrated social protection system

e.         Enabling environment for social protection


4. Topics of policy papers

Topics of
policy papers

The papers will be selected from, but not limited to, the following issues:

o    Dimension of poverty faced by children (individual or household dimension of poverty, deprivation and disparity, and general well-being of children) and ways to protect them.

o    How to incorporate children’s needs in social protection scheme (health, nutrition, education, quality of care, child protection).

o    Towards inclusive social protection (what the most appropriate and effective social protection scheme or program to address specific groups of children under specific circumstances, e.g., gender, children, disability and ethnicity, universal vs targeted social protection scheme.

o    Social protection for children vs poverty reduction strategy (what works best for children, who does what: national/local government, family/community based program, etc)

o    Strengthening and expanding integrated social protection system: how to ensure age-specific vulnerabilities over the life cycle are addressed, particularly the various stages from birth up to adolescence?

o    Strengthening and expanding integrated social protection system: what complementary measures/policies need to be in place to achieve social protection for children?

o    Who are (still) left behind from social protection (looking at migrants and refugees, children out of school)?

o    Enabling environment for social protection for children (supply-side complementary measures, role of family, schools, posyandu/health centers, government, social workers, community)

o    Social protection, poverty reduction, and demographic bonus

o    Social protection impacts (for children in particular) and governance (financial-fiscal implications, delivery mechanisms, grievance and redress, etc.).