Romania is home to more than 3.6 million children who live across the country in 103 municipalities, 216 towns, and in 2.682 communes. Despite the significant progress in the past 30 years, almost 36 % of all Romanian children continue to be at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Over 300,000 children do not complete compulsory education, nearly 50 % do not have basic literacy and numeracy skills at age 15 (PISA), an estimated 350,000 children are left behind by migrant parents, infant mortality rate is the highest in EU and two times higher than the average, and one child in ten is born to an adolescent mother. Children have poor access to health, education and social services and face discrimination. These children are also more exposed to violence, separation from their families and placement in residential or alternative care arrangements or in special schools. Social and gender norms negatively affect their social inclusion and limit their participation. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these vulnerable children even more vulnerable.

Since 2019, when Romania held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Government and UNICEF have championed child participation at both national and EU levels.

By improving access to health and social services at the community level and fostering access to early learning and to quality inclusive education, all children will benefit from breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and exclusion and enjoy more inclusive development, opportunities and social inclusion. When discrimination and negative social norms are addressed, Roma children, children with disabilities and children living in poverty are part of and contribute to the community life.

The Child Friendly Cities Initiative (Inițiativa Localități Prietene ale Copiilor) will seek to address these inequities at the local level. The initiative is set to be launched in five cities, towns and communes this year as part of a pilot project. Informed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Sustainable Development Goals, the initiative will seek to strengthen data collection, local planning, monitoring and budgeting, community empowerment and child participation, development and coordination of services, awareness raising and communication, child-friendly policies and capacity building of local government officials and children.

@UNICEF UN98 Radu Sandovici

Population: 19,328,828
Pop. under 18: 3,634,309
(Source: National Institute of Statistics, as of 1st of January 2020)

• Bacau (municipality)
• Brasov (municipality)
• Colonesti (commune)
• Moinesti (municipality)
• Ungureni (commune)


Viorica Stefanescu
Child Rights Systems Monitoring Specialist

UNICEF Romania
48A, Blvd. Primaverii
1st District
Bucharest 1