The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) presents a round-up of the latest developments in child and family policy in EU Member States in January 2019.
© Adobe Stock
Each piece of news contains a link to the original source, which may be in a language other than English. In most cases, they are press releases from the relevant ministries.
European Union: New EU Youth Strategy comes into force
On 1 January 2019, the EU’s new youth strategy for the period 2019-2027 came into force. Approved by the Council of the EU in November, the new strategy focuses on three areas of action: Engage, Connect and Empower.
The strategy will develop a cross-sectoral approach to address the needs of young people in various policy areas, including the establishment of a new EU youth coordinator.
European Union: European Parliament backs Child Guarantee in ESF+
On 16 January 2019, the European Parliament voted on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) for the period 2021-2027. The draft regulation stipulates that Member States will have to allocate at least 5% of ESF+ resources to the European Child Guarantee scheme.
The Child Guarantee aims to tackle child poverty and social exclusion by encouraging countries to invest in services and initiatives to support positive child development and wellbeing. It is now up to the European Council to support these regulations in the future EU budget.
European Union: Provisional agreement on Work-Life Balance Directive
Following five months of negotiations, the European Parliament and the European Council reached a provisional agreement on the proposal for a new directive on work-life balance for parents and carers.
The directive was proposed by the European Commission as part of the European Pillar for Social Rights in 2017. It includes a European minimum standard of 10 days of compensated paternity leave, the introduction of 2 months of parental leave which is non-transferable between parents, and a new European entitlement for workers of 5 days of carer’s leave per year.
Austria: An audit for family-friendly communities
The Austrian Institute for Family Research (OIF) has published a working paper which reports on experiences in using the ‘audit for family-friendly communities’, a tool for strategic planning, control and evaluation of local policies.
The participative process, which was launched in 2006, aims to help municipalities become more family-friendly. Around 400 municipalities have taken part in this audit so far out of 2,100.
Belgium: Schools to pilot personalised support to learning
The government of the French community of Belgium approved two pilot experiments on personalised learning support, which will take place in 85 schools for early and primary education and, from autumn 2019, secondary schools.
These experiments will inform the development of a mechanism for personalised support to learning in all schools at the start of the 2020 school year.
Croatia: Experts meet to discuss implementation of the new Foster Care act
In December 2018, Croatia adopted a new Action Plan on Deinstitutionalisation for 2018-2020. In this context, the ministry in charge of family and youth policy organised a series of five regional meetings for professionals in the field during the period 14-18 January 2019.
These meetings brought together various stakeholders to discuss the implementation of the new act, new regulations in place as well the importance of coordination between foster parents, providers of social services and support centres.
Estonia: A new Children's Health Monitoring Guide emphasises prevention and early warning
A working version of the new Children’s Health Monitoring Guide was published by the Ministry in charge of Social Affairs, which will be open for public consultation until 4 February 2019.
The previous guidelines, established in 2009, will be updated with evidence-based recommendations for health professionals, parents and social workers. These include prevention measures, advice on the frequency of medical visits, and early notice of health patterns.
In parallel to the implementation of these new guidelines, the codes of conduct for health care workers and for family nurses will be updated accordingly, and training courses for health professionals will be provided.
France: Launch of national strategy for child protection
On 28 January 2019, the newly appointed State Secretary for Childhood Protection announced the principal themes of the government’s Strategy for Child Protection.
The strategy will focus on providing better support for parents, raising awareness on violence against children and improving social services for children (with a strong emphasis on prevention), in particular through better training for professionals.
In the coming months, the strategy will be put to a public consultation, with concrete measures to be decided in the summer.
Germany: Launch of remembrance programme ‘Youth Remembers’
On 29 January 2019, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Family Policy presented a new remembrance programme. ‘Youth Remembers’ is meant to encourage young Germans reflect on their history and understand the dangers of racism, antisemitism and xenophobia.
The programme will include 500 trips to memorials for over 10,000 young people, participative school projects, and meetings between students from Germany, Israel and Eastern Europe.
Greece: Launch of online repository for educational practices and initiatives
At the end of December 2018, the Greek Ministry in charge of education launched a new website which collates summaries of practices, initiatives and interventions implemented in education the last three years. The aim of the website is to provide an overview of the government’s recent actions in the field.
Ireland: Annual report on the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs launched the third annual report on the implementation of the National Strategy on Children and Young People's Participation in Decision-Making, 2015-2020.
The document reports on the progress that government departments and agencies have made in involving children and young people in decision-making, including the establishment of a participation hub, Hub na nÓg.
Malta: Children meet prospective Members of the European Parliament
The Presidents’ Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society organised a roundtable on 18 January 2019 for Maltese children to meet their candidates for the election to the European Parliament.
12 prospective MEPs took part in the event and discussed the children’s concerns relating to issues such as mental health support, renewable energy, bullying and civic education.
Poland: ‘Mama 4+’ programme to come into force in March
The Council of Ministers adopted a draft law creating new parental benefits on 22 January 2019. The ‘Mama 4+’ programme will introduce a new means-tested benefit for parents of four or more children, who are not in employment. The benefit can be claimed from March onwards.
United Kingdom: Freephone helpline for stressed families
A new national freephone helpline for people in stressed-out families, Family Line, was launched on in January. The line will be open every weekday evening from 6pm to 10 pm and in the weekend from 10am to 1pm.
The aim is to provide practical advice and emotional support to people struggling with issues such as money worries, parenthood, or difficult family relationships.