Total participants: 74 Total students: 31 Total Staff members: 10 Total representatives of societal stakeholder: 9 city representatives, 19 professionals, 5 not specified.
We started a new round of city labs under the title Inclusive Zagreb. Second session was dedicated to famlies at risk where we explored sources of social exclusion that families at risk are facing. This included lack of formal and informal support, digital, legal, economic and social factors. We specifically discussed position of single parent families, families facing alcohol addiction, families with parents with disabilities, victims of family violence, and then based on these discussions, 4 community projects were implemented in December 2022 and January 2023.
Hybrid Pop-Up CityLab: Platform & Location Department for Social Work at the Faculty of Law, Nazorova 51, Zagreb
City of Zagreb
15.00-15.15 Introduction 15.15-16.15 moderated group discussions in separate four groups: single parent families, families facing alcohol addiction, families with parents with disabilities, victims of family violence 16.15.-17.00 conclusions from sessions, overall conclusion.
December 2022 and January 2023. Implementation of community projects
Total participants: 74 Total students: 31 Total Staff members: 10 Total representatives of societal stakeholder: 9 city representatives, 19 professionals, 5 not specified.
SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES: According to the data of the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2002 there were a total of 15% of single parents in all families in Croatia. Of these, 83% are mothers with children, while 17% are fathers with children. In the total number of families with children, the share of single parents is 20.6% or every fifth family. Regarding the socioeconomic status of single-parent families, the author Helena Burić states that they are in a disadvantageous position due to factors related to unemployment, lack of social support, insufficient information about regulations, as well as about organizations that offer help to such families. Research on social exclusion in Croatia, conducted in 2006 on a sample of 8,534 respondents by the UN Development Program office, showed that single parents have a much harder time affording their family the basic needs. According to these data, more than 15% of single-parent families cannot afford heating, 40% of single-parent families cannot afford a car, while even 73.3% of single parents cannot provide their family with a one-week vacation. Given that there are no more recent statistical data, the referentiality of the data is lost. Furthermore, as far as the socioeconomic status of single-parent families is concerned, we can conclude that they are in a very unfavorable position according to recent data on average salaries and expenditures of citizens of the Republic of Croatia. The term average family in the Republic of Croatia includes two parents with two children, i.e. a family of four. The average salary for such a family in 2021 was HRK 7,500, while the gross average salary was HRK 10,200. If four-member families and the mentioned average salary are taken into account, it can be concluded that in this case the average monthly income per family member is approximately HRK 3,700. On the other hand, when one-parent families with, for example, one child are included in the story, the result of the average monthly income per family member then amounts to HRK 3,800, according to which we can conclude that a single parent with one child is in a very similar position to two parents with two children. However, it is very important to take into account that most single parents have several children, and when the situation is viewed in this way, the monthly income per household member is reduced to HRK 2,500 when there are two children in the family and HRK 1,900 when there are three. and so on. According to all of the above, it is very easy to conclude that a single-parent family with two or more children is in a very unfavorable economic situation. The biggest problem, which is to a large extent the main reason for the poor economic condition of single-parent families, is actually the fact that the other parent does not fulfill his legal obligations after the divorce case, which creates financial problems for the parent who takes care of the child and lives with him in the form of debts that in a very short period of time can reach amounts up to HRK 10,000. The point is that legally, "on paper" it is not about only one parent, but in reality, in such situations, only one parent takes care of the child. There is also the problem of parents who hide the real state of their income from the institutions in order to avoid supporting their own children. This socioeconomic status greatly contributes to the social exclusion of single-parent families, but also entails a whole series of psychological risk factors and limits the time that parents can spend with their children. In 24 hours, a single parent has to do everything they normally do with two parents, and that includes school, extracurricular activities, going to the doctor and the like, and thus their educational or business aspect suffers, which must be adapted to the needs of the child. This often involves forced shift work or, worst of all, dismissal from the workplace because there is no one to take care of the child when the parent is at work, which is why the family is ultimately forced to survive on the guaranteed minimum compensation. As for the additional educational aspect of single-parent families, in Zagreb the problem is the so-called "dropping out of the education system" as a result of an unplanned pregnancy. Also, in the city of Zagreb, there is a lack of informal forms of care for children when parents are at university or at work, the network of babysitters or "babysitting aunties" is very fragile and underdeveloped. In addition, since the parent has no one to leave the child to look after him, he does not even have the opportunity to go to a job interview, get a job, study, let alone go for an examination and the like. Non-profit, non-governmental organizations that represent an "extended hand to the system" play a major role in overcoming the obstacles of single parents, but that this is still not enough to significantly improve the conditions in society for vulnerable groups such as single-parent families. There is a lack of resources, both human and material, which certainly increases the motivation to create the program on which this project is based. In the case of causes related to the capacity of experts and institutions, it was observed that there is a lack of specifically informed experts who focus on parents of single-parent families and their problems. The causes within the social structure, relationships and community are the lack of sensitization of people from the immediate vicinity of single-parent families, who represent their social network of informal support (members of the extended family and relatives, friends, acquaintances, employers and the like). The causes within the awareness and knowledge of the problem are actually insufficient knowledge and information of parents of single-parent families about existing activities, support programs or other forms of assistance that they can use (e.g. compensation, rights, services, activities and the like). IMPLEMENTED COMMUNITY PROJECT: Education single parent families about existing services and organizations.
FAMILIES THAT DEAL WITH PROBLEMS OF ALCOHOLISM: The lack of work with children who come from a family that is faced with the problem of alcohol addiction is recognized in numerous studies and according to the opinion of experts. Attention and focus in families where one of the parents is addicted to alcohol is focused on that parent, and the child is put on the back burner; not only because of the parent's treatment, but also because of his externalized behavioral problems and internalized problems, which are being addressed. The family is the primary place of socialization of the child, if the child grows up in such a family, there is a great possibility that he will take over the behavior of the parents and begin to use their inadequate ways of communicating, conflicting, and dealing with stress. This problem is recognized by a large number of experts, while the problem actually occurs with parents who do not recognize that the child needs professional help and support (outside the family), and also one big obstacle is parents addicted to alcohol who do not want to admit that they have a problem. As for the social level, "drinking culture" does not help the child in developing a healthy lifestyle and imposes certain forms of entertainment that can turn into something not at all negligible like one or two drinks at a family party. From the above, it is clear that the development of psychosocial work with children who come from families that are faced with the problem of alcohol addiction and the development of a separate place where children can express their feelings in a safe environment and learn something about healthy ways of behavior is very necessary. This problem affects a very large part of our society, because in our society "drinking culture" is something that has become everyday for a large number of families and for a large number of elderly and young people. Due to the mentioned way of life, the lack of psychosocial work with children who are faced with the problem of alcoholism in the family and the lack of a healthy model of behavior directly affects children and future generations. This problem is a transgenerational problem, and it is passed on from parents to children. A smaller part of the children successfully "extricate themselves" from such a family, without negative consequences or at least with minimal consequences. With children who fail to successfully resist all the inadequate ways of behaving, living and thinking to which they are exposed, the transgenerational problem continues. The family is the main environment of the individual and if the individual lives with the family or has (un)wanted contacts with its members, the problem of alcohol addiction will affect them, but not only them. The child can transfer all these inadequate ways of behaving, living and thinking to his circle of friends; the child's motivation for schooling may drop, thus leading to possible problems with grades and teachers. A child without adequate help and support can completely ignore his hobbies and interests, and completely withdraw into himself. The problem of the lack of psychosocial work with children who are faced with the problem of alcohol addiction in their family has been developing for a long time and rapidly, primarily due to the increasing number of alcohol addicts in society. According to the data of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, the Republic of Croatia has about 250,000 alcohol addicts and is among the top five EU countries in terms of consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol consumption early in life leads to health problems, so treatment programs in health institutions include people of all age groups. Although the number of alcohol addicts is growing, children's needs are still not fully recognized, neither in science nor in the general population, and the number of institutions that provide psychosocial assistance to children who come from families with alcohol addiction does not change. The main reason for the development of the problem of the lack of psychosocial work with children who face alcohol addiction in the family is society's lack of awareness about children as invisible victims of this family problem. Also the reason for the existence of this problem is the absence of interventions in the school environment (which is very important for the child, because it is the child's everyday life), the absence of interventions in the community (extracurricular activities, support groups), the lack and ineffectiveness of preventive programs and support programs. Lack of awareness of experts and parents who would start some kind of initiative to develop a psychosocial program. There is also the problem of parents not being aware of their own alcohol addiction problem, and thus the parent will not be aware of the difficulties their child is in. IMPLEMENTED COMMUNITY PROJECT: Workshop for parents with alcohol addiction problem at the group meeting
FAMILIES WITH PARENTS WITH DISABILITIES: The group we deal with as part of our project are children of parents with disabilities. These children often remain invisible, that is, an unnoticed vulnerable group in the system because the social care system and the community do not recognize them in time. They are often neglected by experts, both at the level of insufficient education about the group and due to the lack, that is, the non-existence of institutions, associations and organizations that provide specific support to these children. Parentification can often be observed in children of parents with disabilities, children often take on their parents' roles and responsibilities in order to help them. It is also important to raise awareness and sensitize experts and the wider social environment about the problems of children of disabled parents. It is necessary to develop services for this specific group in order to help them and improve their quality of life. The problem directly affects the children of parents with disabilities, but also the whole family. Family members are interconnected and influence each other, precisely because of this, the disability of a parent contributes to the disruption of family dynamics. Disrupted family dynamics later again negatively affects both children and parents. Family dynamics and family cohesion most often depend on the parents, that is, on the way the parents deal with stress due to the aforementioned situation and how ready they are to accept possible limitations and problems they face on a daily basis. Often such families are burdened financially. Parental stress due to the family's financial income also indirectly affects the rest of the family, i.e. their children. There is no institution or association in any area of the Republic of Croatia that deals with providing help and support to this specific group, so children of parents with disabilities are not recognized as a risk group in any part of the Republic of Croatia. This group is not adequately recognized neither in urban nor in rural areas, so there is no difference in the availability of services with regard to urban or rural settlements. The local community that we have chosen in our project refers to the center of Zagreb. In the center of Zagreb there are several associations that provide assistance to people with disabilities, however, none of these associations are dedicated to the children of parents with disabilities and as such represent a small part of the territory that is covered by this problem, but on which we are trying to act with this project. Social values of equality in society are also threatened, children do not receive the necessary help and are exposed to the possibility of stigmatization due to their special needs and challenges they face. Also, social stability is affected by excluding these children from the support system, which puts them at risk for further development of problems in their later development and in family dynamics. In recent decades, research from the USA shows an increase in the number of people with disabilities who are also parents. With the increase in that number, social prejudices against these people also increase and they are excluded from society. This sometimes leads to the fact that the greatest help and support for such parents are the children, who are already not receiving enough attention. The individual cause of the problem is that parents with disabilities usually do not want to ask for help so that the environment does not confirm their assumptions that they are not capable of being competent parents. The political cause stems from the fact that before there were laws that defended parenthood for people with disabilities, which led to the existing prejudices that are now the social cause of the problem. The institutional cause refers to the insufficient education of employees about the mentioned group.
IMPLEMENTED COMMUNITY PROJECT: Sensitizing the general public about the position of children whose parents have disabilities.
VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE: There are many causes that make it difficult for women victims of domestic violence to find employment when they are away from the perpetrator. One of the causes of difficult employment is the very dependence of women victims of domestic violence on the perpetrator, which they have acquired over the years. Such dependence on the perpetrator was created over the years in different ways. The perpetrator could manipulate the victim and thus exclude her from the world of work. When a woman who is a victim of domestic violence decides to move away from the perpetrator, she is aware of the need to get a job in order to enable herself and her child/children to meet their existential needs. One of the causes of difficult employment is discrimination by employers when hiring, especially in small communities where everyone knows everyone (Autonomna ženska kuća Zagreb, 2011). The next cause of difficult employment is that employers prioritize expertise and competence when hiring, which is often lacking in women victims of domestic violence (Autonomna ženska kuća Zagreb, 2011). A woman victim of domestic violence, after a long absence from the world of work, did not follow the changing trends in her workplace. It often happens that the very change in working conditions also changes the necessary competencies for a job. Women victims of domestic violence often lack work experience since they were unemployed in the marriage/relationship in which they experienced violence or stopped working to take care of the child/children. After they leave their workplaces, move away from the perpetrator, it is difficult for women victims of domestic violence who have a child/children to find a job that does not include weekend shift work, which they need to take care of their child (Autonomna ženska kuća Zagreb, 2011). Also, some employers think that a woman who has experienced violence because of her situation will agree to all the conditions they set, and this is where the victim herself is underestimated. Also, women victims of domestic violence are uninformed about the existence of measures intended to facilitate their employment (Autonomous Women's House Zagreb, 2011). It is important to mention here that local, regional and national politicians ignore this problem in the sense that they do not develop measures that would facilitate employment for women victims of domestic violence in the sense that they do not experience discrimination by employers or stigmatization by colleagues in the workplace. The problem of difficult employment for women victims of domestic violence entails some other problems. Thus, one of the problems is manifested in the fact that women victims of domestic violence cannot satisfy basic existential needs, such as the need for independent housing. This is precisely why women who are victims of domestic violence are dependent on others in their immediate and wider environment, such as their parents, children, and friends. The difficult employment of women victims of domestic violence is clearly reflected in the high unemployment rate of women victims of domestic violence, their low income and the large number of recipients of social benefits. The problem of difficult employment affects the area of Trešnjevka - North and directly affects women victims of domestic violence, since they cannot later create conditions for an independent life away from the perpetrator, that is, they are economically dependent on other people from their immediate and wider environment. Such dependence on others can lead to various problems, such as the impossibility of living together with children because she cannot provide herself with independent and adequate housing. It is this problem of difficult employment for women victims of domestic violence that indirectly affects first of all the victim's children in such a way that the children cannot live with their mother. Here, it can happen that children stay living with the perpetrator of domestic violence, and this can lead to the children themselves being victims of domestic violence. On the other hand, children can be separated from the family and thus not live with either parent, which can affect the unfavorable development of the children. The problem of difficult employment for women victims of domestic violence affects the loss of trust in institutions where violence may not be reported when it is seen that women victims of domestic violence do not have adequate opportunities for employment and creating their independence from the perpetrators and their immediate and wider environment. The consequences that the problem leaves on the female victim of violence are numerous. They can be divided into economic, social and psychological. The economic consequences are, of course, reduced income. The psychological consequences of a woman being a victim of violence and being unemployed due to a reduction in employment opportunities can be: anxiety, depression, dissatisfaction with life, lowered self-esteem, etc. (Paliska-Smoković, 2019). The social consequences are "falling into an underclass" and the possible appearance of certain delinquent behaviors (Paliska -Smoković, 2019). It is also possible to turn to "black work". A possible consequence is that the victim of violence returns to the perpetrator of violence due to difficult employment. IMPLEMENTED COMMUNITY PROJECT: Educational flyer disseminated to women that are victims of family violence in an NGO CESI.
UNIC CityLabs | inclusion | Inclusion