The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) presents a round-up of developments in child and family policy in EU member states in March 2021. 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.
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European Union: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030
On 3 March 2021, the European Commission presented the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030.
The strategy focuses on three themes: ensuring that persons with disabilities have the same rights as other EU citizens, that they are able to live independently and autonomously, and that they are protected from discrimination and enjoy equal opportunities.
The strategy includes an ambition to support access to inclusive and accessible education at all levels, with a particular focus on early childhood education and care (ECEC).
European Union: Commission proposal for Council recommendation establishing a Child Guarantee
On 24 March 2021, the European Commission adopted the proposal for a Council Recommendation to establish a European Child Guarantee.
The proposed Recommendation would call upon Member States to provide children in need with free and effective access to healthcare, education and school-based activities, early childhood education and care; free and effective access to at least one healthy school meal per day; and effective access to healthy nutrition and adequate housing.
The Council will now be asked to consider adopting the proposal and issuing a Council Recommendation to establish the European Child Guarantee.
Bulgaria: Compensation for families who cannot access ECEC
The ministry with responsibility for education (Министерство на образованието и науката) has announced that families with children who have not been able to access public ECEC because of insufficient capacity will receive financial compensation. The compensation will be provided for families with children aged between 3 and the age of entry into elementary school (usually age 6 or 7).
Czechia: Free meals provided to children in ECEC
The ministry with responsibility for education (Ministerstvo Školství, Mládeže a Tělovýchovy) launched a free meal pilot for children attending ECEC who are from families with challenging financial situations.
The programme will be implemented in cooperation with various non-governmental organisations, who will help identify the children in need who will benefit.
The pilot will be firstly rolled out in two regions of Czechia (Karlovy Vary and Ústí nad Labem) where levels of deprivation amongst families are high. If considered successful, the programme may then be expanded to other regions. Czechia already runs a similar programme that provides free lunches to disadvantaged children in primary school.
France: Funding for more ECEC places and in response to COVID-19
The French national social security scheme for families (Caisse Nationale d’allocations familiales) allocated €200 million towards supporting ECEC institutions, including nurseries and childminders.
The aims of this additional funding are to ensure that all children can access quality ECEC, to address inequalities amongst children, and to support parents in reconciling family and work life. These funds are part of the organisation’s action plan to provide more capacity in ECEC (Plan Rebond Petite Enfance).
The organisation also extended the emergency financial support available to ECEC facilities which aims to compensate the facilities for the loss of income due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Latvia: One-off allowance for children in institutions
On 24 March 2021, the Latvian government (Valdība) drafted a bill that would provide a one-off allowance to support children who live in institutions.
The one-time benefit of €500 would be provided to children in childcare facilities, prisons, educational institutions, and social correctional facilities and is meant to support children during COVID-19. This provision will now be considered by the Latvian parliament (Saeima).
Europe: Report on child poverty in European cities
Eurocities, a network of 190 cities in 39 European countries, released a report on child poverty in 35 cities across 17 EU Member States.
The report highlights the high rates of child poverty in cities compared to national averages, the role of child poverty in intergenerational poverty, and the lack of resources available for city councils to address child poverty.
Eurocities also sets out policy recommendations regarding involving cities in fighting child poverty. The report uses data from the second half of 2020 and reflects upon the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.