Families want a healthy environment for their children to thrive and develop their own wings. This year, we celebrate the 30 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. For the occasion and with Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) in mind, in Helsinki on 3-4th October 2019 under the Finnish Presidency of the EU, COFACE Families Europe and Vaestoliitto (the Family Federation of Finland) hosted a gathering of family professionals on the topic of shaping a healthy environment fit for children. This is an open conference, and we gathered 80-100 key stakeholders from Finland and more than 25 European countries.
Taking a holistic family perspective and multi-generation approach as a starting point, we used the opportunity to:
- Consider different areas (education, nutrition, early childhood education care, environmental risks, child-friendly cities, family circumstances) which impact the health and well-being of children;
- Bring to the fore the expertise of the COFACE network and consider together how to strengthen the child health perspective in different policy areas;
- Use the conference as an Open Space for family professionals to meet, exchange, network, collaborate, and build transnational dynamics;
- Use the brainstorms and exchanges to develop the first elements of a 2030 compass to guide the work of COFACE and partners to ensure we can develop measures to build a healthy society, environment and economy fit for children.
This meetup started on 3rd October with a Spotlight on Finland : Round table on evidence-based methods on family work. There have been sustained national efforts to compile evidence-based methods on family work, which can be found on the “Early Intervention” online platform. Similar approaches exist in Sweden and Norway but this is quite a new trend in support programmes for families. A representative from the European Platform for Investing in Children also took part in this session to bring a European perspective to the discussions.
- Presentation by Piia Karjalainen, Scientific Editor, Kasvun Tuki (“Early Intervention Platform”)
- Presentation by Barbara Janta, Senior Analyst, European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC)
On 4th October, we opened the conference with a triple welcome:
- Annemie Drieskens, President, COFACE Families Europe
- Eija Koivuranta, Managing Director, Vaestoliitto
- Katarina Ivanković Knežević, Director, Social Affairs, DG Employment, social affairs and inclusion, European Commission
We then had a Keynote session with high level speakers on the new Finnish Child Strategy and an overview of child well-being across the EU.
- “The new Finnish child strategy: an integrated system to better respond to the needs of children and families” Maria Kaisa Aula, State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Former head of the Finnish government programme to address child and family services, Finland
- “Child well-being across the European Union in a broader socio-economic context: applicability of the IRSSV child well-being index, financed by UNICEF” Dr. Urban Boljka, Inštitut RS za socialno varstvo/Social Protection Institute of the Republic of Slovenia
Then the learning and networking happened through two channels: Open Spaces and Networking Hotspots.
- Open Space 1
Age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education for children in Finland: Delivery, advocacy and building support
- Open Space 2
Building child-friendly spaces and cities for well-being
- Presentation by Sue Rumbold, our Chief Officer for Partnerships and Health in Leeds Children’s Services, Leeds City Council, UK
- Presentation by Sissi Potzinger, Member of the city council, Graz, Austria& Ira Custódio, Senior Advisor, Central Union for Child Welfare, Finland
- Open Space 3
Inclusive early childhood education and care – a great start for children with disabilities
- Presentation by Michèle Racke, Deputy Director, APEMH Luxembourg
- Presentation by Frazer Goodwin, Expert on Early Childhood Development, Eurochild
- Open Space 4
The health impact of environmental risks for children with special focus on air quality and endocrine disruptors.
- Open Space 5
Nutrimedias: a training on the impact of advertising on the food and nutritional choices of children
- Open Space 6
A family environment at risk of poverty: the economic, social and health consequences for well-being of children
At the end of the conference the common statement “Families of Today call for decisive actions to shape a European Union fit for all children” was released.
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