Family Policy

During the Soviet period the family policy in Latvia on the whole was the same as in the Soviet Union. Until the beginning of the 1980s the support for families was declared, however there were few measures of assistance (rather symbolic financial support for large families - since 1944 maternity benefit for working mothers, aid to children in poor families - since 1974, etc.). The above - mentioned benefits were comparatively small, many families even did not register for them (for instance, aid to single mothers was 5 roubles but the number of single mothers increased in the 1970s, the number of recipients of this benefit decreased at the same time).

Concept of full employment during the Soviet period and strictly limited pay formed such a model of family development in which both of spouses worked in paid employment. Employment policy stimulated the drawing of women into the wage labour outside home. Possibilities to mothers of minor children to have partial working hours, in accordance with individual schedule and the like, were limited. Creches/kindergartens were the only possibility for average families to take care of their children. Simultaneously, this way, to take care of children, was a material support for families because of state budgetary subsidy. Nevertheless, these institutions did not satisfy the needs of many families either quantitatively or qualitatively - taking the children to creche/kindergarten caused problems to parents (queues, the location of children's institutions far from the residence of family and the like), the groups were large, children often were ill, etc. In order to preserve the length of service mothers took their children to the creche at once after the expiration of unpaid leave for children care, i.e., at the age of 1 year.

Situation began to improve in the 1980s. By governmental decision of April 28, 1981 "On measures of the state assistance increase for families having children" in Latvia for the first time such benefits and advantages for families with children were introduced, as follows:
  - benefits in connection with birth of a child/children;
  - partially paid leave to mothers for taking care of a child/children up to time when a child/children has/have reached the age of one year;
  - paid additional leave for women having two or more children at the age up to12 years, etc.

In the complex programme "Population of Latvia" (1986-1990) the most important subordinate subprogramme was on fertility and family. The goal of it was to increase fertility to the level necessary for complete replacement of generations and consolidation of stability of family/marital relations. Among the measures envisaged for demographic policy, the following should be mentioned:
  a) the increase of public pre-school education for children and the arrangement of extended - day groups at schools;
  b) the building of small family apartments for students' families;
  c) the establishment of Riga Family and Marriage service and family and marriage consultation centres in other larger cities;
  d) the improvement of family recreation possibilities and other measures.

Under the conditions of independence of the Republic of Latvia the family policy has conceptually changed. In 1991 and 1992 the amendments in legislation were introduced and by decision of the Council of Ministers No. 238 the state benefits for families of fixed amount were introduced. After their introduction the following was cancelled:
  - benefits to single mothers;
  - benefits to large families;
  - benefits to low income families and to families in which fathers avoid of alimony payment.

In 1995 several laws were adopted in Latvia on the system of benefits for families with children: "On social security", "On social aid", "On maternity and sickness allowances" etc.


From 01.01.2003 laws - "State social benefits law" and "Law on social services and social aid" came into effect in Latvia stipulating partial changes in the system of privileges and benefits for families. The main idea is to separate state benefits from local government benefits.