For many families in Austria, starting school is a financial challenge as the cost of equipment and study material is no longer feasible. Diakonie Österreich’s social expert, Martin Schenk, explains that around 150,000 pupils in school live below the income poverty line, and their households are under great pressure due to the sharp rise in housing, food prices, and the ongoing social crisis. “The covid-19 crisis is not over yet. Many parents will get jobs again, but there will also be parents who, for various reasons, do not get one right away. Then it will be super tight. Or they work in the precarious low-wage sector, where one works a lot but can afford little. That is difficult for the children.”
In addition to a simple school-starting kit – which ranges from 100 to 300 euros -, families must also cover copying costs, food, excursions as well as parents’ association contributions. According to the last school cost study, expenses add up to 800 to 900 euros in total expenditure per child. The crisis has also exacerbated parents’ access to have tutoring for their child, as they cannot afford it. For Schenk, the question remains unanswered; “how can we create opportunities for the children, no matter how much money their parents have?”
At Eurodiaconia, many of our members provide social services to people in need across Europe. Amongst them, they provide a wide range of child-related services such as families support centres, youth work services, after-school programmes, counselling and many other social services impacting on children and families.