More and more children in the Palatinate suffer from poverty. As reported by Diakonie der Pfalz, the number of families seeking help has increased significantly this year.
This applies both to families in the cities and to families living in more rural areas. Albrecht Bähr, chairman of the board of Diakonie Pfalz, is also a speaker in the so-called State Poverty Conference and chairman of the State Youth Welfare Conference. He says: More and more families are coming to the counseling centers of the Evangelical Church in the Palatinate because they are slipping into poverty.
What worries Bähr above all is that those seeking help are increasingly also families from the lower middle class who do not receive Harz IV, but whose income is not sufficient to buy their children new school equipment and warm clothes for the winter.
In Rhineland-Palatinate, more than one in five children is affected by poverty
Corona, job losses and now also inflation and the energy crisis – all this would have led to more families ending up with Diakonia’s debt advice, says Bähr. The state diaconate priest estimates that more than 20 percent of the children in Rhineland-Palatinate are affected by poverty, that is, hundreds of thousands of children.
Cities such as Ludwigshafen, Pirmasens and Kaiserslautern are hotspots. But there is also a lot of child poverty in rural areas, because the families can no longer pay the high rents and therefore move to the countryside.
Poverty means shame and exclusion for children
For the affected children, poverty means that they cannot keep up with their peers, have no new sneakers, no designer clothes and no good birthday present or mobile phone. The children are often ashamed of being poor and are excluded from their peers, sometimes even mocked, according to the experience of the Diakonie counseling centers.
This often leads to them withdrawing and also suffering from psychological problems. Poor children are also more likely to get sick, likely due to poor nutrition, and have less access to digital education.
2022 already 280 families supported by the children’s aid fund
Very often it is single mothers who desperately turn to Diakonie der Pfalz because they cannot buy their children new school equipment or warm clothes, says Ingo Martin. He is co-responsible for the so-called children’s aid fund for the Protestant church in the Palatinate. With the money from the foundation, the church helps families in acute need. According to Martin, the demand for this unbureaucratic emergency aid has increased significantly this year compared to the previous year.
And child poverty will continue to rise, Martin is sure. The electricity and gas bills do not come until the end of the year. Pfalz Diakonie chairman Bähr is very concerned that there are far too few cheap apartments in the Pfalz and nationwide.
Energy crisis: More young people at risk of homelessness
Low-income families hardly have a chance of finding cheap housing anyway. Bähr fears that if these families can no longer pay their electricity and gas bills, they will face homelessness. And it also increases the risk that even more young people who leave their homes because of problems will become homeless.
Another major concern is the fatal consequences of poverty for children’s psychological development. It is the biggest challenge to support these children and young people and also to accompany them psychologically
Diakonie Pfalz: Appeal to politicians
This is where politics comes into play. You must ensure as soon as possible that the children affected by poverty are not lost by providing targeted financial support to the families. In addition, politicians should ensure that families do not lose their homes due to the energy crisis. All-day schools and day care centers must be open, with hot lunches and snacks, free tickets for local transport and enough psychological help, deacon priest Bähr demands.
And on World Children’s Day on September 20, Diakonie Germany is also appealing to the federal and state governments to quickly implement an emergency aid package for children.