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Peer Review in Belgium: Children First – pilot local consultation platforms on child poverty

Peer Review in Belgium:  Children First – pilot local consultation platforms on child poverty © taonga, Fotolia

The Belgian government’s Children First initiative has been funding a pilot project to set up local ‘consultation platforms’ on child poverty. The platforms engage a wide range of local actors – from e.g. anti-poverty associations to child daycare centres, schools, sports clubs and student support centres.

Host Country: Belgium

Date: 13-14 January 2015

Peer countries: Bulgaria - France - Greece - Hungary - Ireland - Malta - The Netherlands - United Kingdom

Belgium’s Public Social Welfare Centres, based in each borough, are key to local anti-poverty action. Some 57 of these were involved in the launch of the platforms, either as initiators or as participants. In 2013, the government made EUR 2 million available for Children First.

Children First reflects the EU Commission’s 2013 Recommendation ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, and the Social Investment Package more generally, by improving coordination, increasing the involvement of parents, children and other local stakeholders, and encouraging the exchange of good practice.

Key messages that emerged from this Peer Review:

  • Child poverty cannot be seen in isolation. It is part of the poverty suffered by the households in which the children live, and so it must be tackled through a multidimensional, multi-level policy framework. This is the only way to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
  • The Belgian platforms enable a locally tailored response to child poverty, but strong central government commitment is also essential.
  • Effective drives against child poverty need to be both preventive and proactive and to provide services in a non-stigmatising way.
  • Cooperation among services and institutions does not cost much money, but is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of programmes. It is necessary to establish common objectives and a shared understanding.
  • The 2014-2020 European Social Fund  has ring-fenced 20% of its envelope for social inclusion. Projects aimed at fighting child poverty such as the Children First local consultation platforms are eligible for financial support.
  • The online European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) provides a repository of evidence-based practices in the area of parenting support.

Peer Review manager

Renate Haupfleisch (ÖSB Consulting GmbH)