(approved by the Government on 3rd November, 1999)




Warsaw, 1999











I.       -     Changes in demographic situation and family structure

II.      -     Improvement of the family’s financial situation

III.    -     Improvement of housing conditions

IV.     -     Upbringing of the young generation

V.      -     Improvement of the family’s health

VI.     -     Help for families with the disabled

VII.   -     Childcare

VIII.  -     Help for families threatened by dysfunction

IX.     -     Polish families abroad

X.      -     Culture and the media versus the family

XI.     -     Legal protection of the family









            Formation of social order based on respect for human rights, on the acceptance of family values, and on the principle of helping others as well as state’s concern for common welfare – require active pro-family policy of State.

Pro-family policy’s goal is to ensure the existence and development of family and respect for its rights, including the right to economic self-dependence and the right to decide about children’s upbringing. This is why pro-family policy should develop and an effective social policy focused on dysfunctional families and those in difficult situation should be of intervening and complementary nature.

One of the primary tasks included in the AWS-UW coalition agreement is to pursue a policy for the benefit of families, this was expressed in the document as follows: “Government policy regarding families will aim at improvement of their living standards, ensuring respect for their rights, and increasing their economic self-dependence. Pro-family financial and tax policy will be pursued and help for families will be provided”.

            Family, as a basic unit of society, ensures the renewal of generations and initiates the process of investing in human capital. This capital, defined as the sum of knowledge, skills, health and vital energy contained in a society, is the source of future ability to work, earn and get satisfaction. Thus it is one of determinants of the tempo of economic development, the one which influences its acceleration. Many authors of the human capital concept were awarded the Noble Prize for Economy, these were among others: J. Tinbergen (the first winner of the Noble Prize for Economy), T.W. Shultz (Noble Prize, 1976), G.Stingler (Noble Prize, 1982), F. Modigliani (Noble Prize, 1985), R. Solow (Noble Prize, 1987), R.J. Lucas Jr. (Noble Prize, 1995) and G.S. Becker (Noble Prize, 1992) – the author of the complete theory of human capital.

            “National Pro-Family Policy Programme” was prepared by the Interdepartmental Team for Working Out National Pro-Family Policy, appointed by the Prime Minister. The document was created on the basis of the conclusions of the “Report about the Situation of Polish Families”, approved by the Government on 21st July, 1998. It also refers to the document from 1997: “Pro-Family Policy Programme”.

            A permanent basis of pro-family policy and its important tool is the law. The legal protection of family is one of the underlying principles of the Constitution of the Polish Republic (art. 18, 48, 71, 72). Numerous international conventions and pacts protect family members, including marriage, child and woman (art. 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Social Charter, part I – section 16, the Convention on the Rights of the Child), but what these documents lack are the entries referring to direct legal protection of the family as a whole. Moreover, the concept of family is not understood in the same way in the legislature of various countries of the European Union. There exist different conceptions of the family’s role in a society and the range of obligations towards family is different in various states. This results in the need for promotion and protection of the family rights in the international system of human rights. In the near future Poland will present the United Nations Commission on Human Rights the resolution about working out homogeneous document which will collect and put in order the rights of the family, included now in various international documents, such as the Charter of the Rights of the Family.

            The strategy of social and economic development must be congruent with the existing system of social values. And the family is one of the most enduring values of this system in the Polish society. In accordance with this principle, pro-family policy becomes an important element of the new (just being created) model of the overall social and economic policy of State. National pro-family policy programme should be long-term, systemic and complex.


            One of the primary, long-term goals of pro-family policy is creation of conditions for full development and good functioning of the family by supporting it at all stages of its development. Achievement of this goal requires the application of such solutions that will allow to replace the now dominant principle of state’s protection with the principle of providing help to the family. The fundamental factor which must be taken into account while choosing solutions for pro-family policy should be the general respect for and acceptance of the family’s value and the belief that expenditures on the family with children are the investment from which the society will profit in the future.

            The conditions of the family’s development are determined by economic and social policy. However, the correlation of solutions applied in these two fields is necessary. Only this kind of approach can ensure permanent economic increase and development of social sphere. Joint effect of achieving goals of this policy will be reflected in both the financial situation of families and the quality of social services that are available to them. This Programme refers to every family but especially to families with children, requiring support in upbringing and education of young generation.

            The analysis of the situation of Polish families, presented in the “Report on the Situation of Polish Families”, as well as numerous opinions of experts have defined the following main goals of pro-family policy for the coming years:

-         help for families in acquiring financial self-dependence,

-         improvement of housing conditions,

-         preparation of children and young people for fulfilling family and social roles,

-         stopping the existing negative trends in the country’s population development and improvement of demographic situation.


 The ways to achieve these goals are presented in part II of the “National Pro-Family Policy Programme”, entitled “Schedule of Accomplishing Tasks”, focused on shaping demographic processes, improvement of families’ financial situation, improvement of housing conditions and upbringing of the young generation. Of these goals, special attention should be paid to the following:

1)      change of procreation attitudes so that the number of children in families is increased,

2)      stopping a decrease in the number of marriages,

3)      implementation of an effective system of supporting housing,

4)      introduction of other pro-family solutions - besides the already existing joint settlement of accounts by husband and wife - to the modified tax law,

5)      improvement of living and working conditions of villagers, including increase in farmers’ incomes,

6)      introduction of new solutions about financing lower and higher education, such as the system of credits for students, which was introduced in the academic year 1998/99,

7)      supporting parents in raising children and young people,

8)      change of welfare system in order to increase its effectiveness.

The here presented National pro-family policy programme requires implementation of new instruments that will ensure the family – a basic unit of society – self-dependence and material security and that will contribute to the increase of “human capital”, which should be an important long-term goal and at the same time a determinant of the tempo of economic and social development.

                All this is associated with the necessity to endow work with appropriate value, explain its sense and stimulate respect for its merits, including the spiritual and creative ones in the sense of strengthening the personality of man and – as a result – of a society. It is a very important and urgent task for all educators: parents, grandparents, teachers at all levels of education, and also clergymen and employers. Work, the effect of which is the creation of material basis, should be a principal element in the family’s functioning.

            The fundamental task of State, resulting from the duty of ensuring families material security, should be to aim at providing every adult citizen with the opportunity to work and earn money. The existing unemployment and the baby boom generation, which now enters the labour market, require that State takes strong measures to create new jobs. It is also associated with the urgent need of solving the problem of so-called “unemployment trap” – this should be done by taking advantage of the experiences of other countries.

            One of urgent tasks of pro-family policy is to help dysfunctional families and those that are in difficult material situation. Help in fighting poverty should allow for equalization of development opportunities of the young generation and prevent marginalization of poor families. The latter should be achieved through various forms of professional activation, oriented mainly towards the inhabitants of small towns and villages, who are threatened by prolonged unemployment.


            Realization of integrated pro-family policy requires close cooperation of many entities working together in a harmonious way. At the time of systemic changes the group of potential executors of pro-family policy has grown and so have the possibilities of their cooperation. Besides the institutions of governmental administration, local administrative organs of all levels contribute more and more to realization of pro-family policy as well as various non-governmental organizations, including the religious ones. The latter, most of which are rooted in Christian humanism, not only help to organize schools and educational and nursing institutions, but for most citizens they are the environments where civil virtues are formed. They also help people to go by these values while creating lasting family bonds and to contribute to the common welfare.


            In the new administrative system, local units should set goals and pursue pro-family policy according to local needs. The analysis of families’ situation, made in districts and voivodeships, will allow to better recognize distinct local needs and will make it easier to make effective decisions concerning division of public means and equalization of the existing differences among voivodeships.


            The tasks, assigned in the programme to various departments and local administrative organs, will be financed mostly from the budgets which are at their disposal. Accomplishing tasks pointed out in the Programme, which is to be done in the subsequent years, will take into account the priorities set by executors but at the same time will depend on the possibilities of financing these actions with public means.


            The process of carrying out some of the tasks included in the schedule was begun in 1999, but the actual time for this are the years 2000-2010. However, the achievement of some of the goals will be possible only in the long run and will require constant activity. The tasks, accomplished according to the Schedule, will be congruent with the programmes approved by the government: the Strategy of Public Finances and Economic Development Poland 2000-2010, and the Conception of Medium-Term Economic Development of the Country till 2002.


            In the process of execution of the Programme, detailed goals will be constantly up-dated and new actions taken, resulting from the examination of the existing systems of the family assistance, tendencies of change in living conditions and functioning of families, and also from permanent monitoring of application of solutions included in the Programme and the effects it brings.


            National Pro-Family Policy Programme, being one of the elements of AWS-UW coalition agreement, is a novel conception based on respect for human rights and the value of the family, the conception which ensures the autonomy and self-dependence of the family, which in the end should ensure development, security and stabilization of State.








































Objective I  -  Changes in demographic situation and family structure



Human factor is the basis for socio-economic development. Proper development of the population is the necessary condition for smooth economic progress. All demographic fluctuations cause the necessity of constant adjusting to the changing size and age structure of the population. To guarantee stable conditions for socio-economic development, care must be taken of proper development of the population.
In demographic situation of Poland in the 1990s, the most important processes and trends are:

1)      decreased number of marriages caused mainly by considerably lowered tendency to change marital status among persons at the age when most marriages are contracted, which leads to the adverse balance of marriages and divorces,

2)      increase in the absolute and relative number of divorces (yet compared with other countries of Central and Eastern Europe and even more with the countries of Western Europe and Scandinavia, the divorce rate in Poland is still low),

3)      much higher, compared to most European countries, death rate of men resulting from accidents, neoplastic diseases and the diseases of circulatory system, which causes family disintegration and orphanhood,

4)      progressing birth-rate decrease as a result of the lowered tendency to have children and of the strengthening model of the family with one or two children. In 1997, 412 thousand children were born, that is 135 thousand fewer than in 1990. In 1998, 395,6 thousand children were born, which means that the number of births per 1000 people was 10,2. In 1990, that number was 14,4 and in 1995, there were 11,2 successful births per 1000 people,

5)      lack of simple replacement of generations observed since 1989: in 1997, an average number of children born by a woman at reproductive age (between 15 and 49 years of age) was 1,51 and in 1998, it was 1,43, whereas simple replacement of generations can be ensured only if the rate is 2,11-2,15,

6)      systematic increase in the number of extramarital births in the overall number of births: on average every tenth child is born from extramarital relationship and some of these children are born by teenage mothers,

7)      changes in the number and structure of families as a result of the evolution of demographic processes. According to the data from the latest Microcensus, in 1995 there were 10533 thousand families in Poland, including 6278 thousand (60%) married couples with children and 1733 thousand (17%) incomplete families with one parent and children. Remaining families constituted the group of childless families, but most of them were the families where grown-up children left home. In all families there were altogether 11793 thousand children up to the age of 24 who were supported by their parents. In the families with at least three children there were 4430 thousand children, that is, on average every third child, and in incomplete families – 1508 thousand, which constituted 13% of all children. In 1990, the number of children born per one mother during the whole reproductive period (15-49 years of age) was 2.,04 and 28,8% of children were born as the third or subsequent child in the family. In 1998, the percentage of these subsequent births dropped to 24,1.


The changes in demographic attitudes and behaviours are caused by the growing educational and professional aspirations of young people, the competition on the labour market, limitations concerning the possibilities of satisfying housing and material needs and difficulties in reconciling professional duties with family ones.

Disadvantageous changes in attitudes regarding marriage and parenthood set specified goals for pro-family policy. Among these the most important are:

1)      pro-family education of the whole society. Preparation for family life through a proper system of upbringing and education in the family and school, popularizing in the media proper models of family life that point out to the needs of others and pathologies in families, promotion of the principle that everyone has the right to dignified life and that all members of the family have not only rights but also duties,

2)      formation of the system of norms and values in which the family and children will be seen a priority values,

3)      creation of conditions for reconciling family duties with the individual aspirations of family members. In the current demographic situation achievement of this goal requires:

a)      ensuring education in secondary schools and colleges for greater and greater number of young people,

b)      creation for young people between 20-29 years of age the opportunities of getting their own flats or houses on the terms depending on the financial status of families,

c)      aiming at keeping up the fast tempo of economic development as it helps to create new jobs,

d)      support for the family in taking care over its elderly and disabled members, which should be reflected in adequate solutions in health policy, the forms of social care and social insurance system.

Creation of the climate of respect for the family and giving families assistance in solving their financial and nursing problems are the activities which in the long run should result in stopping a decrease in the number of marriages and in bringing about an increase in the number of births allowing at least for simple replacement of generations.




Objective II - Improvement of the family’s financial situation



Recent years have brought about an improvement of the living standards of a society. However, besides the visible tokens of an improvement in the situation of an average family there are still many families which live in very difficult conditions. It is even more disturbing because of the fact that it concerns to great extent the families with many children and the developable ones. These families are often affected by unemployment, which is the main cause of difficult material situation of many of them. The threat of permanent poverty is even bigger in the case of the families that live in small towns and villages.

On account of this situation, State’s efforts to ensure families material conditions for development will go in two directions which – if these activities are carried out simultaneously – will allow to avoid drastic social costs:

1)      in accordance with the principle of helping others, state will stimulate activeness of the family by creating conditions for acquiring economic self-dependence,

2)      families, which are in difficult material situation and are unable to cope with it on their own, will be provided with state assistance in the form of the social benefits system.


The basis for the self-support of the family should be its activeness, especially professional. Therefore the most important aim is to create conditions for every family, which will enable it to support itself from its own work. For this purpose the following activities are necessary:

1)      ensuring an increase in the number of jobs by constant economic development of the country,

2)      taking measures to reduce unemployment, especially the prolonged unemployment which affects mainly rural environments and the families of former employees of the State Farms; the reform of labour market will serve that purpose,

3)      increasing the significance of incomes from work as the source of the family’s support. At present it happens quite often that incomes from work are supplemented with social benefits. This tendency is growing among the families with many children and with unemployed or disabled persons. Low level of earnings, which forces people to live on various benefits, does not motivate to increase one’s professional activeness. This problem concerns especially the families of farmers where the significance of the incomes from farming declines in favour of social benefits,

4)      simplifying and cutting down taxes through introduction of new tax system, which will encourage people to greater professional activeness and which will also include new pro-family solutions. In the government’s proposal these solutions are to concern, beginning with the year 2000, the families with many children. The project is that these families will be entitled to direct deduction of certain amount of money from tax, the amount being specified in the first section of tax scale. This amount will depend on the number of children in a given family. In 1999 families with three or more children, which were in difficult financial situation, received single support in the form of family allowances.


The above activities should motivate families to greater engagement and effort aimed at gaining the best possible economic effects.

At the same time it is necessary to ensure social security for those families that do not have any income or whose income is not sufficient for them to function properly. Help will be given especially to families with many children, incomplete families and the ones that have disabled, elderly or chronically ill members. At present there are many various social benefits targeted on the family at all stages of its development. These benefits will be reviewed in relation to their effectiveness and adequate targeting. The analysis of the current benefits will allow for creation of welfare net, taking into account social needs as well as financial means of State. Some of the current benefits will be considerably modified. The range and extent of benefits (in the form of money and goods) will be verified as well.

The conception of guaranteed income will be worked on. It requires a lot of expertise and social survey. Its implementation must be preceded by the analysis of the existing welfare solutions and the examination of their effectiveness, and it must depend on the State’s budget. First of all the analysis should focus on elderly people who have no income as well as people with the lowest old age or disability pensions and people completely unable to work, etc.

Another urgent task is to define homogeneous rules of setting the income level entitling families of farmers to benefits. At present this income is set at different levels according to various needs, e.g. differently for social benefits and family allowances. The change, however, will not be possible before completion of the work on imposing on farmers the obligation to keep farming accounts and completion of actions associated with introduction of income tax in farming.

At the same time various kinds of environmental help for the family will be developed, concerning mainly the organization of care over disabled, elderly and chronically ill people. Specialistic family counselling will be developed and perfected, especially that for families affected by violence and having difficulties in raising children or other problems. In every district there was created the District Centre of Family Help, which closely cooperates with the welfare centres in civil parishes.

To the most urgent tasks concerned with social help for families in a difficult situation belong also prolongation of the period during which benefits are given to pregnant women and people with children whose difficult situation entitles them to receive this type of help, and prolongation of maternity leave.

The situation of rural families is especially disturbing. The registered number of the unemployed living in rural areas is growing. Bad employment situation in rural areas is worsened by the existence of considerable hidden unemployment in farming.

Unemployment in rural areas is more durable than that in cities and more difficult to reduce. This is a result of a small number of economic units that constitute rural labour market, impoverishment of the village limiting the scope of economic and trade activity and low level of education and professional qualifications of the rural population. Especially dangerous is the unemployment among former employees of the State Farms because it is locally centred, prolonged and thus constituting real threat to development of their families.

The awareness of this situation was the reason why the government, as early as in April 1998, approved the “Medium-Term Strategy of Development of Agriculture and Rural Areas”. One of the priorities of the new farming policy is to increase farmers’ incomes and to improve working and living conditions of village inhabitants. These goals will be achieved by simultaneous application of economic, organizational and social tools. This is so because the main challenge which the Polish farming now faces is its restructuring which – to great extent – will result in reduction of the number of people for whom farming is the main source of income. This will happen not only as a result of a decrease in the number of farms and an increase of their areas, but also because families having farms will earn incomes from additional work or non-farming businesses.

Another element, which will influence the improvement of the financial situation of families, will be realization of consumer-oriented policy whose aim is to protect economic interests of consumers, including their family situation.












Objective III - Improvement of housing conditions



A place to live, besides food, is a basic human need. The lack of it deprives men of their social, economic and, first of all, biological security. However, housing situation of Polish families must be regarded as bad. The number of families exceed the number of homes by 1,5 million, which results in the fact that families must live together and homes are overpopulated. The effect is that every tenth family does not have its own home and over 40% of families live in overpopulated homes. Only one third of young families have their own homes. Moreover, about 10 million Poles live in substandard homes. About 40% of dwelling-places require major repairs.[1]
Too little living space in homes results in the fact that in many of them there is not enough room for every child to have their own furniture to sleep and study and not enough room for grown-up members to have a rest.

It must be stressed that the average living space of housing cooperative flats (i.e. those for medium-income families), which have been sold in recent years, constantly diminishes. This situation is caused by prices of new flats as they are too high for most families wanting to live on their own or improve their housing conditions. Also renting flats at standard market prices is beyond their means.

Another serious problem, which affects more and more families, are overdue payments for using flats, which may result in eviction of the growing number of families.

Critical housing situation, which concerns many families, especially young, seriously affects their functioning. In order to improve the situation, State must urgently take actions to achieve the following objectives:

1)      creation of opportunities to acquire a home,

2)      help in improvement of housing conditions of families,

3)      help in payment of rentals. 


All the above problems are reflected in the document, which the government approved on 13th July, 1999, entitled “The Outlines of the Housing Policy of State for the Years 1999-2003”. Three most important priorities of the new housing programme of State are:

1)      creation of conditions to increase the supply and lower the costs of housing,

2)      realignment of rentals and improvement and rationalization of the way the existing housing resources are used, including elimination of legal obstacles concerning exchange of homes,

3)      widening the sector of tenement houses.

The implementation of “The Outlines of the Housing Policy of State for the Years 1999-2003” has already gone far. The laws concerning complementary, detailed programmes have already been prepared and some of them have been approved by the Cabinet and directed to the Seym. These programmes are:

1.      Support for the repairs of buildings

2.      A modified system of housing subsidies

3.      Support for thermomodernization (adequate law was enacted in January 1999)

4.      Preferential loans for technical infrastructure connected with housing

5.      Building societies

6.      Own home programme

7.      Welfare housing programme

8.      Help in elimination of the effects of natural calamities and personal tragedies

9.      Help in paying off “old times” housing cooperative credits

10.  Compensations for the owners of housing savings book

The above proposals, replacing the system of investment allowances, are more just from the social point of view, because they are targeted on various income groups, especially low and medium.




Objective IV – Upbringing of the young generation


Concern for children and young people is a fundamental domain of pro-family policy. Children and young people deserve special attention because their health, ethics and intellect will determine the future of our families and thus also the future of our country and nation. Investments in the youth bring multiplied returns because they allow to prevent many unwanted tendencies and to avoid their consequences.

                One of the most important aspects of raising young people is the focus on their morals. Crucial here is the example given by parents. The Constitution of the Polish Republic guarantees them the right to bring up children according to their moral and religious beliefs. This right encompasses educational programme of schools children attend as well as the programmes of the public media, especially radio and television. State’s task is to ensure the fulfilment of this right.

The family is where civil virtues – that is, the capacity to do good - ripen, so not only does it teach about goodness but also provides the ability to behave this way.

These virtues allow young people to enter and creatively participate in the life of community and society, and at the same time to preserve the same morals in both personal and public life.  For there are no good citizens when there are no mature, responsible and active people. Public morality cannot exist without individual morality.

The family is a community of parents, children and relatives, built on love, and it is where first, crucial experience of entering human relationships occurs. A child looks at the world with the eyes of his or her family members and conveys the principles governing in the family into human relations in a society. Hence, while experiencing goodness, love and solidarity from the closest relatives in everyday life, a child learns to acquire these virtues and matures to become a true citizen.

The process of bringing up children requires that parents are adequately supported not only by counselling centres established for that purpose or other specialistic institutions, but first of all by creation of adequate atmosphere around ethic values. It encompasses the issue of promotion of the family in the media but also elimination of violence and pornography from radio, television and press.

One of the most effective ways for State to influence upbringing is to cooperate with the family. Thus it will be necessary to educate and teach parents about raising children through educational programmes presented in the public media and educational projects as well as through initiating and supporting the groups, organizations, movements and associations dealing with education of parents. The above mentioned parental groups of support can play a major role because of the direct way they exert influence, individualization of the forms of communication, exchange of experiences and personal example. These activities, however, should be supplemented by a net of psychological and pedagogical counselling institutions and this net should be supported and developed. Counselling institutions should also focus on families with small children (from 0 to 6 years of age), who do not attend nurseries and kindergartens.

As children grow, State begins to influence directly their educational process through – in the case of some children – kindergarten education and then school education. So it is very important to perfect the quality of the kindergarten education process. Worth stressing is the necessity to increase access to kindergartens, especially for children from poor families and from neglected environments. A kindergarten should create for children from these environments the possibility of catching up with other children in terms of their development.

One of basic tasks of contemporary school, apart from passing on knowledge and skills, is to properly shape social attitudes of children and this is why school education system should be based on acceptance of and respect for the system of values. It is also very important to resign from teaching encyclopaedic knowledge in favour of strengthening upbringing system. To ensure teacher a direct, individual and personal contact with a pupil, one must aim at optimalization of the number of pupils in a class.

Teachers play a significant role in school upbringing. Increase in prestige of teachers is first of all connected with improvement of their financial status and it should go together with higher ethical and professional requirements towards teachers.

Parents’ right to bring up children should be reflected in obligatory establishment of School Councils and, in the end, in introduction of so-called Educational Bond. Through active participation in Councils parents will be able to influence the profile of school upbringing.

At present one can observe a very good tendency of an increase in the number of young people who study at schools of higher education (in the years 1900-96, the increase from 12,9% to 25,4%) and attend secondary schools (in the years 1900-96, the increase from 18,9% to 27,3%). Demand for higher education still exceeds the number of places at colleges. Although in recent years over a dozen schools of higher education have been established, the number of places at universities must still be increased and a net of secondary schools must be adjusted to local needs. There is also a need for the rise of expenditures on education. In 1999, real expenditures on education will rise by 8,5%; in 2000, they will rise by 4,7% whereas real expenditures on higher education will rise by 3,3%.

Adolescents, during the period of rebellion connected with maturing, often reject the authority of parents and come under influence of contemporaries. In order to limit uncontrolled influence of informal groups, one must support educational, sport and touristic associations as well as youth and religious organizations. An important role in this sphere is played by school, supporting and cooperating with these organizations, and also by Church.

Activity of the above mentioned organizations should be supplemented by extracurricular activities organized by school. Extraschool institutions, whose activity has been seriously reduced in recent years, should be revived and further developed (in the years 1990-96 their number decreased from 598 to 351 and the number of young people involved in their work decreased from 514,4 thousand to 263 thousand). A dayroom should also be organized in every school. Great role in all this should be played by local governments.

Actions of State in the sphere of bringing up young people are not limited to supporting the family and stimulating the activeness of school. State’s recognition of the important role of educational, sport and touristic associations as well as youth and religious organizations should result in support for their work. State should, first of all, promote those enterprises which assist the family. In so far as means allow, support should be given to organizing children’s and youngsters’ free time as well as their holidays. One of the ways to achieve this goal is to provide help in training the leaders of such movements. Movements and associations from rural areas deserve special attention and care as well as the organizations established after 1989, which have to cope with numerous difficulties associated with lack of technical and financial means.

Extremely important for creation of an offer addressed to young people are sport and tourism. Activeness in these fields is directly connected with health of the young generation, it prevents unnecessary future expenditures on medical care and it is also an important element of upbringing process. Direct sport activity is significant but no less the creation of proper cultural habits. The media and school programmes may play an important role here. Programmes such as “Sport for Everyone”, “All Children’s Sport” and “Sport in Village and Academic Environments” will be continued. At the same time support will be provided for development of social sport and touristic activities organized by various associations, including religious ones, and for development of generally available sport base.

Ensuring young people a better start in life is an important element of upbringing. Formation of adolescents who are socially active and industrious is – along with proper education – a good remedy for the problem of unemployment. Active young people are more hardened to temporary defeats and disappointments associated with entering adulthood. Business activeness of young people should be supported by adequate credits, easy access to cheap housing and assistance in creating small and medium companies, including family ones. It is also important to adjust education to current labour market needs and to develop professional counselling.

On the way of their development, children and young people encounter threats to physical and mental health, which exceed their ability to resist them. This is why in the most difficult situations parents and society protect children and young people against outside threats. At present these threats are alcoholism, drugs, pornography and negative influence of the media and sects. It is necessary to introduce proper legal regulations, e.g. limitation of the right to register sects, protection against pornography, ban on advertising alcohol and cigarettes, and to prepare teachers, catechists, counselling personnel and youth leaders for dealing with these social threats. In order to prevent the activity of sects, such measures should also be taken as organizing a net of information and counselling centres, preparing psychologists and therapists, creating training programmes for parents and providing support for self-help parental groups. Local teams for preventing alcoholism and drugs should be created as well and they should cooperate with properly trained specialists, and the law in this regard should be effectively enforced.

In order to bring up young people properly, a current degree of threat to the young generation must be monitored and instructions must be worked out for Chief Central Statistical Office and other opinion polls institutions as to collecting necessary data, and an advisory centres to work out current reports should be created.

Young people are the healthiest part of the Polish society. The above presented actions are aimed at ensuring young people such way of entering adulthood that will minimalize their defeats and frustrations, which are the source of many pathological situations requiring later costly prevention. Therefore, while balancing profits from such actions against their costs, all the elements of this process should be taken into account.




Objective V – Improvement of the family’s health


According to the World Health Organization, the main determinants of health are:

1)      life style (50%)

2)      influence of environmental factors (20%)

3)      genetic conditions (20%)

4)      activity of health service (10%)


Long-term conception of improvement of the family’s health is based on promotion of health, pro-health upbringing as well as shaping and propagating such life style which helps to preserve health and the sense of responsibility for one’s own health. 

On account of the above, decision-makers and the whole society should be made to realize that improvement activities carried out by health service are only the result of earlier negligence and short-sightedness. The Ministry of Health must change the proportion of prophylactic activities to improvement activities, endowing the former with greater importance. These prophylactic activities are:

1)      because of the fact that the majority of Polish families are not prepared for activities aimed at preventing diseases, school – besides medical circles and the media – must play an important role here. Its main task should be pro-health education of the young generation,

2)      improper life style – higher risk of diseases caused by one’s own acts (nicotinism, alcoholism and others) – should burden financially a person who chooses such way of living with, for instance, higher insurance premium (over standard or alternative) or partial costs of treatment,

3)      full observance and enforcement of regulations forbidding children and young people to drink alcohol, smoke and take drugs,

4)      verification of regulations concerning environment protection, increasing control of environment pollution caused by companies and strict imposition of penalties which would discourage these companies from illusory saving in this regard,

5)      working out and implementation of the programme of prenatal and genetic examination connected with genetic and family counselling in order to treat babies with genetic defects in prenatal period,

6)      it is necessary to work out the programme of monitoring health condition of various groups of people according to their sex and place of living.

These groups are:

a)      babies up to one year of age, together with the analysis of epidemic data   concerning perinatal period and health condition of pregnant women (prematurity, small birth weight, frequency of the occurrence of congenital defects, infant mortality),

b)      children from one to five years of age,

c)      school children divided into age groups,

d)      women at reproductive age and menopausal age,

e)      men at reproductive age,

f)        people from seventy to eighty years of age, with special focus on degeneration diseases, central nervous system, depression syndromes, motor system and osteoporosis,

7)      it is necessary to improve health service and focus its attention on family by:

a)      promoting family doctor service,

b)      sanctioning (law enacting) and working out the scope and schedule of prophylactic examinations of children, young people and other age groups with special focus on pregnant women or women at reproductive age,

c)      carrying out the National Health Programme and already implemented health policy programmes, especially the “Programme of Improvement of Perinatal Care in Poland”,

d)      implementation of programmes aimed at prevention of main causes of death and disability among children and young people, and at making parents and guardians aware of the need for proper care. These programmes would concern in particular:

- prevention of injuries and accidents, involving police and insurance companies   (road patrols, introduction of insurance premiums related to accident rate),

- improvement of early detection and treatment of children’s neoplastic diseases,

- prevention of infants’ sudden deaths,

- early correction of infants’ defects in prenatal and neonatal period,

e)      working out medical care system for school children according to the reform of health service,

f)        cooperation with schools on health promotion,

g)      improvement of the quality and accessibility of medical services,

h)      increase in number and regional availability of screening examinations in order to detect adults’ neoplasms,

i)        working out the programme of prevention of accidents among elderly people,

j)        working out and implementation of the programme of promoting pro-health life style (organized physical effort, proper nutrition, prevention of smoking, heavy drinking and obesity).



Objective VI – Help for families with the disabled


National family policy pays special attention to families with the disabled. It is so because in these families the disability of their members generates a number of difficulties which impede normal life and solving basic economic, material, educational and nursing problems. Families with disabled persons must cope with existential problems concerning material sphere of their lives, necessity of nursing and looking after these persons, helping them in everyday functioning, and ensuring conditions for home rehabilitation.

Actions taken to help families with the disabled should be manifold. This is so because the needs of disabled people who live alone are different from the needs of big families looking after their disabled member. Similarly, other kinds of help and support should be given to families where parents bring up disabled children and other to those where disabled parents bring up healthy children.

The significance of the problem of families with the disabled is even bigger for the fact that the number of these people constantly grows. In 1997, the problem of disability affected 14% of all Poles, that is, twice as many as in 1978. Every fifth village inhabitant was disabled. The disabled were present in every third Polish household and in 12% of households a disabled person was the head of the family. In May 1998, the number of families with the disabled was 3709 thousand: in 24% of these households there were children up to 14 years of age. This data demonstrates great, constantly growing importance of social, economic and medical problems concerning that group of people.

Help for families with disabled or ill persons is now and will be in the future provided by:

1)      increasing the income of these families (benefits and other forms of financial help resulting from the Welfare Act, Family and Nursing Allowances Act),

2)      help in looking after the disabled,

3)      rehabilitation services,

4)      system of care over disabled children in school environment and their education,

5)      efforts to professionally activate the disabled and help them in acquiring economic independence,

6)      specialistic medical care, including early diagnosing of disability.

All this requires major changes in the current system of institutional support and help for the disabled and their families. It is necessary to introduce supporting instruments that would be complementary to the financial ones: broadly understood counselling, organization of local support groups and versatile cooperation with families of the disabled. To accomplish these tasks, support should be provided to local authorities and non-governmental organizations.

Actions to help families with the disabled should include versatile professional activation of the disabled (through, for instance, creating jobs, providing the disabled with training, helping them to change their qualifications, and through elimination of all kinds of obstacles, including the architectonic ones which limit self-dependence of the disabled) as well as ensuring the conditions to find job for those family members who take direct care of a disabled person but who do not want to resign from their professional activeness.

Success of many activities carried out for the benefit of the disabled depends on the way in which the means allocated to this purpose will be used. In many cases it is better from the an economic but also social point of view if a disabled person remains in the family in return for adequate financial help. Necessary in such situation is support in the form of nursing and rehabilitation services, support in managing the household and adjusting home to the presence of a disabled person, and also – quite often –  psychological help. Financial help should be given in particular to those people who resign from work in order to look after a disabled member of the family.

Development of nursing services is associated with development and supporting of the activities of non-governmental organizations, including voluntary societies. It is necessary to prepare adequate regulations that would support these solutions.

Disabled children should have a possibility of remaining with their families, and adequate help concerning upbringing and education of these children must be ensured. The creation of a well functioning – at all levels - education system for disabled children is necessary and this system should be as much integrative as possible to ensure full socialization of these children. To achieve this, tolerance for otherness and sensitivity to the needs of the weaker and those who need help must be awakened in a society.

Support is also needed for organization of sport events and recreational camps. It should include proper training of personnel, especially teachers, for work with the disabled.

Important for the disabled is also specialistic medical care. Main needs in this regard are proper, early diagnosis of disability and improvement of the quality and availability of rehabilitation services. 

The most important thing is prevention of isolation and marginalization of the disabled and their families. This can be achieved by creating conditions for integration of the disabled with the closest social environment (family, neighbours, local institutions) and preparation of the disabled – if possible – for self-dependent life.

Ensuring proper, possibly the fullest help for families with disabled persons requires the analysis of its situation, mostly from demographic, social and economic point of view, and constant monitoring of these families on the national scale. Therefore it is essential to carry out comprehensive research on families with the disabled, the results of which will allow to define the scope of actions needed to help them.



Objective VII – Childcare


A child – as the youngest and the weakest member of a society – deserves special care and protection. In recognition of everybody’s right to live, legal protection of human life from conception to natural death should be observed. That issue is connected with presenting every human life as a fundamental value. This should be the basis for shaping society’s awareness.

Pregnant women should be provided with specialistic medical and psychological care. The care of the youngest children is –  first of all – a concern for safe delivery and the promotion of breast feeding, help in upbringing and education of children from 0 to 6 years of age as well as medical care of school children.

Concern for children’s health should also be included in national health service programmes. A significant role in them must be played by promotion of healthy life style, especially in connection to sport activeness and nutrition – free from nicotine, alcohol and drugs. Promotion of healthy life style, however, cannot be an independent propaganda action but should be a part of total social education policy, pursued by schools, the media and all public cultural and educational institutions.

A natural place for upbringing and care of children is home. However, the necessity of taking up work by both parents on the one hand and the educational needs of children on the other point to the necessity of providing institutional help for parents. In the case of the youngest children – up to three years of age – we should aim at creating the possibility for one of the parents to take personal care of children; this could be done by introducing the system of parental leaves for parents who resign from job to look after children. Whereas those parents, who do not decide to quit jobs, should be supported in their care of children by a system of well functioning nurseries.

Introduction of more elastic regulations concerning working time to the labour law as well as establishment of family businesses, in which parents have more freedom to organize their own working time, are other important ways to increase opportunities of taking care of children. Works on the modification of the Labour Code have already begun.

In the case of children at kindergarten age, the family should receive support for fulfilling its educational and socialization function - it is especially important in neglected environments. Necessary is also professional childcare for farmers’ families during the periods when parents work in the fields. 

This role is played by kindergartens whose number and localization should meet local needs, and at the same time the quality of their services should be constantly improved. Therefore, properly trained stuff must be ensured for kindergartens, and the poorest families must be given financial help for covering the costs of this kind of care.

Environmental dayrooms for children, youth clubs, specialistic workshops as well as sport and recreational infrastructure are also an important element of care, upbringing and education. Experienced personnel should be employed in these institutions to ensure proper care and education of children and to help them develop their interests. It is a significant task for local authorities.

The above solutions concerning care and education should be complemented with promotion of family recreation activities.

Special care must be ensured for children who were left by their parents or orphaned. The best way to help them is to create legal and organizational conditions enabling their early adoption which will protect them against orphanhood illness. Educational and popularization efforts should lead to making full use of the existing legal solutions which thus will allow to start instant intervention proceedings whenever parental duties are not fulfilled properly.

Actions will be taken to quicken adoption procedures so that children can find new parents as quickly as possible. It concerns in particular children rejected by mothers instantly or soon after birth as well as children who live in nursing and educational institutions.

Legal regulations must be introduced concerning the procedure which precedes adoption application to court so that the choice of future guardians – whether Polish or foreign – is optimal and professional. Achievement of these goals will require further development of a net of adoption and nursing centres and their cooperation.

Besides adoption, other forms of substitutive family care for orphans and social orphans will be supported and developed – especially substitutive families and family orphanages. They should replace most of current, traditional orphanages. This requires simplification and quickening of procedures.

This kind of changes in childcare should develop thanks to a change in the way of financing these actions. Financial means should be addressed to and allocated for concrete children and not for nursing institutions. An important role in care of orphaned children should be played by local authorities. Rules and ogranizational planning of this care should not be worked out centrally by the government, but should be differentiated and adjusted to concrete needs and traditions of local communities.

It is essential to increase effectiveness of reaching alimony verdicts as well as those concerning the scope of parental power and the right to personal contact with a child of the parent who does not take direct care of this child on account of divorce or living elsewhere.




Objective VIII – Help for families threatened by dysfunction


Dysfunctional families and those threatened by dysfunction need complex help directed to all their members and concerning every sphere of life. The aim of help should be to conquer difficulties and to make these families self-dependent by showing them the ways out of problems and by appropriate financial support. Thus focused help will be more effective and will not result in the passivity of those in need nor will it encourage other people to allow for similar situations in their own lives.

There exist various causes of families’ dysfunction but in the case of many families these causes accumulate. A good example of this are the families of former employees of the State Farms, who require specific, multiple help. Prolonged lack of professional activeness of parents, spreading alcoholism, difficult material conditions limit or even completely deprive young people of the opportunity to acquire a proper level of education and to shape their life aspirations. The chances of the intellectual development of children and youngsters from these families are also reduced by the lack of proper values both in the family and the closest environment.

To provide appropriate help for families threatened by dysfunction, new forms and ways of helping must be introduced - such that would take into account the conclusions from the analysis of current solutions. This help (concerned with health, financial, educational, psychological, housing, legal, employment problems and others) should be multidimensional and provided by multidepartmental institutions. The procedure of providing this help should also be changed, beginning with early crisis intervention. Services associated with all this should be carried out in homes of the affected families – as in the case of family doctors. Preparation for such activities should be reflected in the programmes of graduate and postgraduate studies (early prevention, multidimensional help, etc.)

The model of establishments for dysfunctional persons also needs to be changed. Modernization of a net of traditional educational and correction institutions should tend towards creation of a multifunctional institution carrying out – among others – the projects of work with dysfunctional families as well as work in outdoor environment. This activity would be complemented by new established boarding-schools taking intensive care of under age people who are beyond their parents’ influence and by the institutions for single mothers and those who want to escape from home violence.

Another important element of helping families threatened by dysfunction will be further development and modernization of psychological and educational counselling. Development of this counselling tends towards development of family and youth counselling, capable of providing, among others, new, intensive forms of help for families (e.g. the system of help in home environment – in-home service), help for children and young people in outdoor environment (among others: projects of work among homeless juveniles or those in youth subcultures), help for under age people through a new system of mediation (individual education projects alternative to traditional legal means). Professional skills of counselling people should be constantly improved and counselling centres should be provided with the latest diagnosis methods.

Improvement of the family courts’ performance is another important element of helping dysfunctional families. First of all, the effectiveness of the courts’ work should be improved by creation of conditions for professional development of judges, guardians, community homes as well as diagnostic and consultation family centres. An increase in the motivation to work among the staff and to receive training as well as changes in the law should result in improvement of courts’ functioning. Moreover, the reform of judicial guardianship must be completed so that it becomes professional and social. Such actions should increase the prestige of family courts (see: Objective XI – Legal protection of the family).




Objective IX – Polish families abroad


Polish families affected by the problem of emigration are a permanent concern of the authorities of the Polish Republic. The number of Poles and people of Polish descent who live all over the world is estimated at 12-18 million – depending on the criteria which were used. There are about 900 thousand Polish citizens living overseas and there are also thousands of unregistered Polish seasonal workers. While analysing the structure of this group of Poles living abroad, one can see that most of them are at production age and have families.

The above presented data is approximate because there is very little information or surveys on the subject. For this reason complex research should be carried out concerning Polish families living abroad. The aim of this research would be to professionally define the situation, threats, opportunities and directions of development of the Polish families overseas.

A significant part of Polish emigrants constitute families that emigrated to stay abroad permanently or that are staying there for long periods of time, mainly in the USA, Western Europe, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Australia and South Africa. Most of them are citizens of the states in which they live, who also have Polish citizenship. A specific group constitute mixed married couples living abroad, but also in Poland, with one spouse being a citizen of a different country. A distinct group are families that officially emigrated to Germany (mainly in the years 1973-1989) and that for the most part want to maintain their connection with Poland and Polishness.

Completely different is the situation of Polish autochtonic families living in Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Russia, the Czech Republic, Moldavia and Romania or the situation of displaced families (e.g. to Kazakhstan) who strive for repatriation. A small group so far of actual repatriates requires special attention. Specific problems of these families, resulting mainly from difficulties in adaptation to new conditions, point to the need of providing them with versatile help.

A distinct group are full families that live abroad (for business reasons) temporarily. The number of families living in Poland, with one parent working abroad, is estimated at several hundred thousand. There is also a big group of broken families as a result of the fact that one spouse stayed abroad and lives there in a new relationship.

The presented issues will be successively dealt with by social policy on Polish families abroad, according to the presented schedule.




Objective X – Culture and the media versus the family


Reports of many scientific centres doing research on culture confirm that it is the family that to greatest extent shapes cultural needs of children, young people and adults. In the family are created the models of participation in culture and there the scope of the young generation’s cultural participation is defined. Young people also point to home as the place where they learnt to feel needs associated with culture.

Participation in cultural activities should serve the purpose of developing personality and stimulating overall activeness. The task of creating a model of cultural activeness that could compete with passive monoculture of the electronic media becomes more and more urgent.

While taking actions concerned with shaping cultural needs and competence, pro-family policy tries to achieve the following primary goals:

1)      promotion of family values,

2)      improvement of cultural education,

3)      increase in cultural events participation.


Promotion of family values will be carried out through the following actions:

1)      promotion of family values present in European culture,

2)      organization of competitions for authors of the programmes promoting these values,

3)      systematic promotion of pro-family cultural programmes in the media,


Improvement of cultural education may be accomplished thanks to:

1)      actions leading to widening the scope of extracurricular and extraschool activities as well as preparation of personnel for them,

2)      elimination of educational institutions’ statutes and introduction of the standards of extracurricular and extraschool education,

3)      cooperation of cultural institutions, schools, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations,

4)      promotion of books and newspapers with educational merits for children and young people,

5)      promotion of cultural education realized by cultural institutions.


To increase participation in cultural events, the following should be done:

1)      reduction of closing down cultural centres and educational institutions by supporting the processes of these establishments’ self-reform,

2)      supporting financially cultural institutions, schools, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations which carry out programmes of social prevention,

3)      implementing a pilot programme of the new model of working with young people, focused on stimulating their self-dependence and on prevention of self-destructive behaviour,

4)      recommending the introduction – following the example of the countries of Western Europe – of free admission to state galleries on Sundays and of discount family tickets to cultural institutions.


The media exert greater and greater influence upon shaping the awareness of a society. General and easy access to the production showing violence and pornography requires that the existing administrative and legal solutions are verified and adequate measures taken. Pro-family policy sets for itself a number of goals in this regard. They are:

1)      attempting to systematically diagnose the influence of the media on the condition of the family and informing public opinion about the results of such diagnosis,

2)      following the principle of protection, especially of children and young men, against contact with violence and pornography in the media (broadcasting hours, content and quality of programmes),

3)      promotion of family values in the public media,

4)      preparation of an aware viewer,

5)      involving the media in shaping the cultural attitudes of viewers and obligating them to systematically promote pro-family programmes.


To achieve these goals, the following actions are planned:

1)      working out regulations protecting against demoralization of children and young people as well as devaluation of the family,

2)      introducing to school programmes the issues concerning psychological and social influence of the media as well as basics of knowledge about the ways of appealing to the subconscious and manipulating information,

3)      separating the cultural and educational tasks of the media from other tasks by creation of a special public television channel with non-commercial programmes,

4)      legal and financial support for local youth magazines and appropriate newspapers for children and young people,

5)      financial support for the activity of cultural institutions concerning cultural education.




Objective XI – Legal protection of families


Actions concerning legal protection of families are aimed in particular at improvement of functioning of family courts and their supporting organs. Better help for families than so far can still be provided – connected with both: solving internal family conflicts and fighting pathology without creating new legal solutions.

Accomplishment of this task, however, depends on financial means. Lack of sufficient financial means makes it impossible to decrease the number of cases with which family courts’ judges and employees of these courts’ supporting organs are burdened, to finish the guardianship reform started in 1992, make full use of the therapeutic and mediatory functions of diagnostic and consultation centres, and create sufficient number of guardianship centres that would work with children and young people in their homes. Despite these difficulties, the reform of legal family guardianship is continued and it is to be finished by the end of 2000. Improvement of the general courts’ efficiency in reaching verdicts will also depend on budget means assigned after 1999.

An important legal move is introduction of the institution of separation, which is to be done by the end of 1999. This solution is also meant to serve the purpose of supporting families during a period of serious conflict between spouses and the purpose of using all possible means to eliminate it.

On 1st September 1998 new penal laws were enforced. The examination of their effectiveness with regard to legal and penal protection of the family will be done after quite a long period of the new law’s functioning because before that adequate analysis must be made. Such research will be carried out in order to continue the process of looking for optimal solutions.

Fight against family pathology is one of the elements of pro-family policy. The specific way in which courts and their supporting organs function is such that they intervene at the stage when family conflict or pathology is seriously developed. The extent to which courts and their supporting organs are involved will be much lesser once the preventive actions of other institutions responsible for the national pro-family policy are improved.






[1] All the statistics included in this chapter come from The Census of Population and Homes by Representation Method, 1995, Chief Central Statistical Office, Warsaw, 1996


© Departament Spraw Rodziny