In Latvia, although the support provided by each local municipality to families varies quite considerably, the role of local government is nevertheless essential for creating a family-friendly environment. Taking the afore mentioned aspects and the lack of information available at the national level on municipal support for families with children into account, the “Family-Friendly Municipality” programme was launched in 2017, which mainly entails:
- Organizing the “Family-FriendlyMunicipality” competition to evaluate municipalities in Latvia, by identifying the most supportive municipalities with the most diverse and affordable services for families with children;
- A long-term, comprehensive and easy-to-read summary of the information on support for families with children provided by the municipalities on the website: vietagimenei.lv, which provides parents with full information about their options to receive support in their municipality. In 2017, information on the website: www.vietagimenei.lv was provided by 100 municipalities, while 55 municipalities participated in the competition.
In 2017, Ozolnieki District Municipality was recognized as the winner in the “Family-Friendly Municipality” contest. Daugavpils City Municipality was the winner in the group comprised of cities of national importance, while the municipality of Sigulda won in the group made up of development centres of regional significance. Out of the other 89 municipalities, the winner was Olaine Municipality. In addition, the commission also highlighted the performance of other municipalities in various fields.
- Improved availability of services for the inhabitants of Latvia. A website vietagimenei.lv has been created, offering a comprehensive and easy-to-read summary of the information on the support provided by local governments to families with children, including:
- infographics showing the main services available from municipalities;
- the possibility of comparing certain types of support between municipalities;
- cartographic information on playgrounds and sports fields for children.
- Improved services and increased support from municipalities:
- During interviews with municipalities, it was found that most municipalities review their closest neighbouring municipality’s support from local governments and generate or consider providing funding and increased support;
- The comments of 989 members of the public were submitted to municipalities, including specific proposals from residents for improvement of municipal services.
- More space for families with children – the five competition winners received financial support to be used in the year 2018 for investments related to services or infrastructure for families with children.
In light of the above, the programme is being continued in 2018, including:
- organising the competition, with additional publicity in the form of an information campaign.
Within the framework of the competition, a family with children is understood to mean a family with at least one child under the age of 18 years or an adult who is under the age of 24, while receiving general, vocational or higher education.
A conceptual report “On the proposals of the Cooperation Platform’s “Demographic Issues Centre” in support of families with children in 2018-2020” (approved by Cabinet of Ministers Decree No. 36 of February 5, 2018) stipulates that it is essential to ensure the sustainability of the “Family-Friendly Municipality” programme and to include information on its website about local government initiatives aimed at motivating compatriots abroad (especially families with children) to return to live in their municipality. In addition, information on municipal remuneration specialists will be available on the website created by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development for the competition: www.vietagimenei.lv, along with the initiatives and results of local governments (a platform for exchanging best practice and experience).
Accordingly, in 2018 a measure in the form of a “Pilot Project for Local Government Remittance Promotion “Regional Re-emigration Coordinator”” has been implemented, within the framework of which, regional re-emigration coordinators are provided in five regions of Latvia, as well as support to ten pilot municipalities for the purpose of re-emigration. The main components of the Re-emigration Pilot Project are individually prepared offers (prepared by the regional coordinators) according to the needs of the potential re-emigrants, and the provision of support for re-emigrants seeking to return with a view to launching a business project.
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