On 6th December, the European Commission consulted various networks on the implementation of the EC recommendation on “Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage”. COFACE Families Europe was invited to make a statement at the meeting. We referred to the need to ensure the right for all children to access a variety of available, affordable and high-quality childcare services in the communities in order to reduce the risk of poverty of children and their families. We also highlighted the right of children to grow up in a family environment, contributing to end the placement of children in institutions.
As for general pointers from our perspective to ensure we bring child well-being policies into the 21st century, we made the following recommendations:
- Further develop the idea of a European childcare guarantee as part of the upcoming Work Life Balance package
- Build on evidence and research available under FP7, Horizon2020, and continue investing in social science and humanities research under FP9 in order to fully understand emerging family patterns and their impact on children, on childhood development
- Make clear governance links between the Recommendation on Investing in Children, the European Pillar of Social Rights and key EU and international legal instruments, including the use of EU funding for the implementation of the Recommendation (as called for by the European Parliament Written Declaration on Investing in children (0042/2015), adopted in 2015 with 428 signatures)
- Build on the work of civil society organisations which support parents and grandparents in different ways, raising awareness on how to address various challenges such as bullying, digitalisation, nutrition challenges, inclusive education, financial literacy, and more
- Consider future proofing EU social policy initiatives to invest in children. For instance, we need to consider how to protect children’s rights in the digital world as well as the real world. We also need to provide children with the digital skills necessary to be empowered in the digital economy, which is already a reality today. Children are producers, and not only users, of online content.
As a reminder, the European Commission Recommendation on Investing in Children stresses the importance of early intervention and preventative approaches, calling on EU countries to:
-Support parents’ access to the labour market and make sure that work ‘pays’ for them.
-Improve access to affordable early childhood education and care services.
-Provide adequate income support such as child and family benefits, which should be redistributive across income groups but avoid inactivity traps and stigmatisation.
-Step up access to quality services that are essential to children’s outcomes– improve access to early childhood education and care including for children under 3, eliminate school segregation, enhance access to health, housing, social services.
-Support children’s participation in extra-curricular activities and in services and decisions affecting children such as social services, education, alternative care.
More information here about the Recommendation on Investing in Children.