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Families of Today call for decisive actions to shape a European Union fit for all children

COFACE Families Europe statement from the conference on
shaping a healthy environment fit for children

Helsinki, 4th October 2019, MEDIA RELEASE

Families want a healthy environment for their children to thrive and develop their own wings. However, they face a lot of pressure due to the demographic transition, evolving family patterns, coupled with low economic growth and increasing digitalisation of our lives and an ever-changing labour market. Therefore, COFACE Families Europe and Vaestoliitto, the Family Federation of Finland, invited family professionals to Helsinki, Finland, to discuss which elements are needed to shape a healthy environment fit for children.

In light of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Climate Strikes by children around the world, the promotion of an Economy of Wellbeing by the Finnish Presidency of the EU and Sustainable Development Goal 3 on healthy life and well-being at all ages in mind, we felt discussions on this subject were well overdue.

On 3-4th October, COFACE brought together the expertise of its network and participants from all over Europe who reflected on how education, nutrition, early childhood education care, environmental risks, child-friendly cities, family circumstances impact the health and wellbeing of children. They could meet, exchange, network, collaborate, build transnational dynamics and reflect on how to strengthen the child health perspective in different policy areas.

COFACE Families Europe is ready to address the challenges of the present time in partnership with the European Union to meet the long-term objectives of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Only recently, we launched a New Deal for Families of Today, a list of short-term demands addressed at EU-level policy-makers in the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the EU. This New Deal calls for a mix of European actions to drive real change, including policy, law, funding, benchmarking, and innovation.

COFACE Families Europe welcomes the attention the new Commission is giving to children by committing to realise a European Child Guarantee. This is an important opportunity for national governments to trigger structural reforms to shape a healthy environment fit for children. This means ensuring that children, especially the most vulnerable, have access to essential services, such as free healthcare, education, early childhood education and care, decent housing and adequate nutrition.

However, to ensure that the Child Guarantee is impactful, we need to see it aligned with an EU policy framework and national strategies that will ensure its sustainable and strategic implementation. For this, national ownership is key. National governments need to prioritise investing in children and families through comprehensive family reforms including not only access to services, but also decent income, employment and work-life balance.