Children’s upbringing and wellbeing in Greece have been deeply affected by the bailout programme agreed between Greece and the IMF-EU-ECB, which has caused a dramatic increase in unemployment, poverty, inequality, racism and social disruption. Health insurance and welfare provision have collapsed under the acute pressure to reduce public cost, while the huge wave of youth immigration has weakened the existing ‘family based’ welfare.
Uncertainty, insecurity, the sudden and complete overthrow of living conditions and prospects, and the loss of dignity have severely threatened daily social functioning and parents’ mental health, with obvious consequences on children’s wellbeing. Although Greek families are child oriented, the new conditions have affected inter-generational solidarity and led to a vicious circle of risks causing child neglect or maltreatment.
Following an outline of the traditional welfare in Greece, this paper briefly discusses welfare issues under the crisis conditions and the ‘adjustment plan’ before raising questions about welfare services’ responsiveness to the needs of children and youth living in ‘new poor’ families and deprived communities.
The paper emphasizes the continued shortage of ‘permissive factors for effective parenting’ ( Buchanan, 1996, p. 8) and of protective factors for children’s development in schools and communities as well as the rapid increase of out-home care provision.
Drawing on a social work perspective, it traces the specific clinical-family crisis, foster care interventions, and community interventions in schools and neighbourhoods. Among the pressing priorities is to make sure that children’s vulnerabilities are visible on policy agendas, and both children and their families are included in policies targeted at combating poverty, educational and health inequalities.