UNICEF highlights Kazakh government commitment to improve children’s well-being

ASTANA – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Oct. 5 roundtable focused on the challenges of providing access to social assistance and special social services for Kazakh families with children.

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Representatives of a number of ministries, as well as non-governmental and research organisations, raised important questions about providing such access to families and children who face various social and economic risks.

UNICEF officials presented the results of a study on barriers to accessing the services in select regions. The research, initiated jointly with the Kazakh Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, examined the obstacles faced by low-income and socially-vulnerable families.

Kazakhstan recently completed a number of initiatives that have strengthened the ability to target and reach the services provided, said UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Yuri Oksamitny.

“At the same time, it is important to emphasise that targeting should be carried out not only by strengthening the administrative rules for the assignment of social services and benefits, but also by actively involving the needy groups of the population in the coverage of services and benefits, which, as a result, will solve the problems of social ill-being,” he said.

He noted the organisation appreciates the commitment of the government and its agencies to improve the well-being of children in the country and implement social programmes and initiatives that take children’s and adolescents’ interests into consideration depending on their age, needs and aspirations.

The UNICEF study in Kazakhstan shows there are still categories of children from socially-vulnerable families who do not have access to social benefits and special social services. The factors impeding access include low awareness of government support measures and the role of the social worker, restrictive administrative rules and negative attitudes towards children with limited abilities. Based on the study’s results, further recommendations will be developed to ensure broad coverage.

The participants also discussed introducing new standards for social worker and visiting nurse services using the example of pilot projects at polyclinics in the Kyzylorda and Mangistau regions. The projects have been accomplished with UNICEF support since 2015.