NON-GOVERNMENTAL CHILDCARE CENTRES IN A NEOLIBERAL ENVIRONMENT: THE CASE OF LITHUANIA
Keywords:Non-governmental organizations, social rights provision, cooperative governance deficit model, socially vulnerable children, neoliberalism
The article examines how nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working with children from poor and socially excluded families operate in the neoliberal environment. The case of non-governmental school-age childcare centres (SACCs) in Lithuania was analysed. SACCs provide social services to children from poor and socially excluded families. The study is based on 62 qualitative interviews with experts working in non-governmental SACCs. Results indicate that financial support from ministry and municipalities enables SACCs to survive. From the perspective of SACCs it has been observed that government uses new public management tools in a modern fashion to transfer the responsibility onto the shoulders of non-governmental SACCs, while the government reduces its contribution to symbolic financial support and the request for accountability. The current government–NGOs relationship, based on neoliberal ideology and new public managements tools, has negative consequences and does not ensure social services for socially excluded target groups, especially in a country with a sizable welfare gap.