Czech Republic: Romani family of quintuplets ineligible for state benefits after private fundraising fiasco
The family with quintuplets in the Czech Republic whose fates news server Romea.cz has long been reporting on is now no longer eligible for the state's housing supplement or living allowance. In March of this year, the family of Alexandra Kiňova received over CZK 600 000 [EUR 23 000] from a collection established by the Prague City Hall, thereby forfeiting their legal entitlement to social benefits.
As a consequence of complications with the fundraising drive, the family is no longer eligible for state benefits. Czech tabloid news server Blesk.cz and mainstream news server iDNES.cz reported the change in the family's eligibility on 9 May.
News server Romea.cz warned in March that the family, which is the first in the Czech Republic ever to give birth to quintuplets, would obviously become ineligible for the state child allowance, housing allowance, and other benefits as a result of the situation. Klára Samková, the famiy's legal representative, confirmed that supposition to news server Romea.cz on the basis of a statement from the regional branch of the Czech Labor Office in Příbram.
The attorney's prediction has now come to pass. The complicated situation arose after the now ex-friend and "patron" of the family, Klára Vítková Rulíková, had a falling out with the quintuplets' mother.
Their disagreement resulted in the family ceasing their collaboration with a club run by Rulíková, which then closed its fundraising drive in support of the children at their mother's request in April 2015. The family's attorney then filed a lawsuit asking for the money that had been raised to be paid directly to them by the club, but that lawsuit was rejected by the court in January.
The sum was instead transferred to the account of the establisher of the club, the City of Prague. "When the club transferred that sum to the City of Prague, the legal status of the money changed, and now it could only be paid to the family as a gift," the family's attorney told iDNES.cz.
"Income that is a gift is always included as regular income in the state benefit calculation system," the family's attorney told iDNES.cz. "The family will have to draw on that CZK 600 000, and only when it is all spent will their eligibility for state benefits be restored."
"In this situation, I will recommend the family return the money, because it is actually a danger to them - they cannot use it, for example, to pay their rent, which is CZK 13 000 [EUR 500] monthly, or rather, they could legally only pay five-eighths of their rent from that money," the attorney explained. The monetary gift is strictly tied to specific expenditures and has paradoxically brought the family into financial hardship.
Drawing on the collected funds can be done to cover the quintuplets' needs only, and accounting for the expenditures must be submitted to the City of Prague by the last day of each year. The money, therefore, cannot be used to cover the needs of the family's first-born son, for example, who is not one of the quintuplets.
Kiňová has turned to the Czech Public Defender of Rights, Anna Šabatová, to complain about the City of Prague's approach, according to iDNES.cz. "At the moment I cannot pay for ordinary household expenditures at all, mainly clothing, groceries for eight people, insurance for the car, medicines, and the telephone," the quintuplet's mother has written to the Public Defender of Rights.
"The family's bank account is almost empty, so I am asking you, please, for accelerated aid in negotiating with the Labor Office and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs," Kiňová has written to the Public Defender. The family's attorney has simultaneously asked Czech Labor Minister Michaela Marksová to take action to ameliorate the harshness of the legal situation that has arisen.
"We would like, with her aid, to reinstate the family's eligibility to all social benefits," the attorney said. The family had previously been entitled to roughly CZK 27 000 [EUR 1000] in state benefits monthly.
According to the tabloid Blesk, the family is anticipating an extraordinarily difficult time now, as the quintuplets turn four years old next month, which means they will lose their state-sponsored health visitor. As of September they will attend preschool, which will involve significant costs.
The Milovice Family Center regularly publishes a list of items the family needs. Those who would like to financially support them can do so through this link (in Czech only).
The Czech Republic's first-ever quintuplets - Alex, Deniel, Martin, Michael and Tereza - were born by Caesarean section on 2 June 2013 in Prague's Podoli Hospital. The birth was closely followed by the media and turned out well, with all five children safely delivered.
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