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European Platform for Investing
in Children (EPIC) is back
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The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) has returned with new content. EPIC provides up-to-date news and information to share good practice and reflect significant developments in child and family policy at EU and Member State level, to help children and families face the challenges that exist in the current economic climate.
In the Spotlight
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EU Recommendation on ‘Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ assessed for the first time

The European Social Policy Network (ESPN) has released country-specific reports on Member State progress towards implementing the 2013 Recommendation on Investing in Children. The country-specific reports and the accompanying Synthesis Report are intended to help the Commission and Member States set priorities for implementing the principles in relation to children in the Pillar of Social Rights.

Strengthening child policy across Europe

The reports, prepared at the request of the European Commission, represent the second time since the adoption of the Recommendation that progress towards implementing the Recommendation has been benchmarked. The Recommendation on Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage was adopted in 2013 as a key element of the European Commission’s Social Investment Package and sets out a common European Framework for tackling child poverty and social exclusion and promoting child well-being. It aims to help Member States “strengthen synergies across relevant policy areas” as well as “review their policies and learn from each other’s experiences in improving policy efficiency and effectiveness through innovative approaches, whilst taking into account the different situations and needs at local, regional and national level”.

In addition to country-specific progress reports, the Synthesis Report examines the extent to which the 28 Member States and seven other countries have strengthened or further developed their policies and programmes for children in relation to the three Pillars of the 2013 Recommendation:

Pillar 1 – Access to Resources;
Pillar 2 – Access to Affordable Quality Services; and
Pillar 3 – Children’s Right to Participate

The ESPN national experts propose a wide range of actions in regard to the next steps that individual countries need to make to implement the Recommendation. However, four areas were identified as frequently recurring across Member States:

  • The need for more comprehensive, strategic and coordinated approaches including mainstreaming children’s rights in national policy making;
  • The need for better targeting of high risk groups such as Roma and immigrant children;
  • The need to increase the accessibility and quality of ECEC services; and
  • The need to address inequalities and access issues in schools.

Ten key overarching recommendations aim at bringing greater urgency and effectiveness to the implementation process. In addition to recommendations in the field of education, health and rights, one recommendation stresses the need for an ongoing commitment to documenting good practice and exchange and learning. The report suggests to establish a programme of exchange and learning (including peer reviews) on the implementation of the Recommendation and to further develop an online European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC).

Next steps for the Member States

This emphasis on progress toward the Recommendation is in line with the renewed importance given to tackling child poverty in the European Pillar of Social Rights, and European Commission President Juncker’s goal of achieving a “triple-A” Social Europe.

However, findings from the Report show that a significant intensification of effort will be required to have the desired impact on reducing child poverty and social exclusion and improving child well-being. Notably, the report makes a number of suggestions, including making the implementation of the Recommendation a high and visible political priority; developing a roadmap for implementation; ensuring rigorous monitoring and reporting; better integrating the Recommendation’s implementation in the European Semester; mainstreaming and monitoring the well-being of children in all relevant EU initiatives; linking with the implementation of relevant international level processes (UN Sustainable Development Goals and UN Convention on the Rights of the Child); enhancing civil dialogue; making more effective use of EU financial instruments; intensifying exchange and learning; and raising public and political awareness.

Upcoming Events
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23/11/2017 - 24/11/2017
Towards an effective implementation of community based services in child care

FICE Spain, supported by Eurochild, will host a conference on the transition towards community-based child and youth care services in Spain on 23-24 November.

Topics will include the new child protection law and national good practices relating to community-based services. The conference will:

  • contextualize this new national legislation within the current EU trends and framework on deinstitutionalisation;
  • analyses its contents and potentialities;
  • provide examples of good practices to encourage its effective implementation.

30/11/2017
“Who cares?” - Results of the stocktaking study on the challenges and needs of family carers in Europe

COFACE Families Europe will host a breakfast meeting on 30 November to launch its report on the challenges faced by family and informal carers, including examples of good policies across Europe.

The event will be hosted by MEPs Olga Sehnalova (S&D) and Marian Harkin (ALDE).

NEWS ITEMS
Music class (c) Adobe stock
Overview of the 2016 and 2017 country-specific recommendations in the area of families and children
Every year the European Commission issues country-specific recommendations (CSRs) as part of the European Semester. The CSRs set policy objectives for the next year. As per their name CSRs are specific to each country but are part of a wider set of EU priorities identified as part of the Annual Growth Survey.
Compared to 2016, 2017 has seen a reduction in the number of CSRs across the various policy topics, with the exception of “efficiency/ effectiveness of social protection support” and “reconciliation”.
The recitals of the CSRs introduce the country-specific context in which the recommendations were made. They provide an overview of the countries’ situation in areas covered by the European Semester, including child poverty and well-being. The 2017 recitals remain very substantial in terms of policy criticism.
The complete set of 2017 CSRs and recitals can be found on the European Commission European Semester Website.

EPIC at conference on promoting migrant integration
The 2016 EPIC research brief on Education policy responses for the inclusion of migrant children in Europe was presented at a conference on Promoting Migrant Integration for a Powerful, Diverse and Multicultural Europe. The conference, organised by Public Policy Exchange, took place in Brussels on Thursday 14 September 2017. The 2016 EPIC research brief was presented in a session on Facilitating Access to Education and Labour Market in Host Countries. Other key speakers included the European Commission (DG HOME) and the International Migration Office (IOM).

European Pillar of Social Rights
Following the 2016 public consultation, the European Commission presented the European Pillar of Social Rights as a formal Commission Recommendation on 26th April 2017. The objective of the Pillar is to contribute to social progress by supporting fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems and providing a framework for a set of related legislative and non-legislative initiatives in the Pillar’s areas of focus.
The central part of the Pillar focuses on three main principles:
1. equal opportunities and access to the labour market;
2. fair working conditions; and
3. social protection and inclusion.
Under these headings, 20 ‘key principles’ – policy domains such as housing, education, social and health care and employment – set out the Commission’s position on social rights for citizens, and provide a framework against which Member States can benchmark their social, education and employment policies. An online ‘social scoreboard’ has also been launched to track Member State progress against key indicators across the three dimensions of the Pillar.

YOUR FEEDBACK
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The EPIC team is interested in your feedback on user experiences with EPIC (in particular the Practices that Work section). Aspects that are of interest are for example: How do people use the information posted on EPIC? Do national experts and practitioners work with the information posted on EPIC? Do practitioners and decision-makers use the collected Evidence-Based Practices? Please email us at EMPL-EPIC@ec.europa.eu.
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The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) wants to provide information about all policies that can help children and their families face up to the unprecedented challenges that exist in the current economic climate in Europe. This is an occasional electronic newsletter intended for anyone with an interest in the information provided by EPIC.