Child welfare system at fault?

BELGRADE -- Despite appeals to fight low birthrates, the state lacks mechanisms to aid families with over four children.

Politicians often draw attention to the issue of low birthrates in Serbia. However, the current legislation and institutional practice are not in line with the politicians’ appeals.

The state sets aside welfare allowances for up to four newborns per family, but does not provide relief for families with more than four mouths to feed.

As many as 331,000 children in Serbia receive welfare allowances.

Sandra and Mile Kajveš live in a small two-room house with their six children. The Kajveš family lives off 12,000 dinars of social welfare a month. Mile finds it hard to find full employment and manages only to perform seasonal jobs.

They occasionally receive aid from humanitarian organizations or individuals, and the state has given a negative response each time they filed for additional support on grounds that there was no legislative necessary to allow for additional help.

Such families received welfare allowance for each child by 2002 when the Law on Social Welfare was amended so that a family could receive welfare for only the first four newborns.

According to the data provided by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy, there are 180,000 Serbian beneficiaries on child welfare. The state has kept no record of families with more than four children since 2002.