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 September 2020. 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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Austria: Allowances to support childcare and children’s return to school
As a response to the COVID19 crisis, the mMinister for women (Frauenministerin) announced that the government will provide an allowance of €360 per child to support families in coping with the consequences of the COVID19 crisis from September 2020 onwards. In addition, a further €100 will be provided to families for each child aged between 6 and 15 in order to support them in returning to school. The government has also been reimbursing parents with one third of the costs of childcare that was required during COVID19: this period has now been extended until the end of February 2021 and reimbursement will be increased to half of the costs.
Belgium: Change in compulsory age for schooling in Wallonia-Brussels
Belgium reduced the age at which children begin mandatory education from 6 to 5 from September 2020 onwards. This change was introduced with the aim of detecting children’s special educational needs earlier on and improving learning outcomes in primary school.
Bulgaria: Allowances for parents of children under 14 affected by COVID19
The council of ministers (Министерския съвет) have adapted regulations around the Social Assistance Act with the aim of supporting parents who have children under the age of 14, have an average monthly income that is less than or equal to the minimum wage, and whose employment status and income have been affected by the COVID19 crisis. Parents with one child will receive a monthly sum equal to the minimum wage (BGN 610, approximately €310) while parents with two or more children will receive a higher sum (BGN 915, approximately €467).
France: Longer paternity leave becomes compulsory
On 23 September, the French President (le Président de la République) announced that paternity leave in France will increase to 28 days from July 2021 onwards. It will become compulsory for eligible parents to take at least seven days of this leave. Currently, 14 days of paternity leave are available to spouses or civil partners of the mother. As before, three days of paternity leave can be taken around childbirth which are remunerated by the employer, with the remaining days remunerated by the government.
France: Publication on early childhood development
A government commission of 18 early childhood specialists have published a study into the 1000 days (Le rapport des 1000 jours) between the fourth month of pregnancy and the second birthday, which is recognized as a key development period. The study put forward the government commission’s recommendations to government. The study aims to inform a 1000 day pathway offered to parents to support child development. The initiative is part of a broader Children’s Pact (Pacte pour l’ enfance) put forward by the minister responsible for the protection of children (Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé).
Germany: Funds to improve education and expand care
The Federal Cabinet (Bundeskabinett) passed a draft budget for 2021 which includes approximately €500 million that the ministry for family affairs (Budesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend) will use to improve early childhood education and care and to expand childcare in 2021. The budget aims to support states and municipalities to add up to 90,000 new childcare places for children under school-going age and to expand all-day childcare for children in primary school. The Child and Youth plan (Kinder- und Jugendplan) will also receive over €216 million in 2021, which will go towards continuing funding for 850 youth-related organisations and institutions,
Ireland: New guidelines for childcare services
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth launched the National Quality Guidelines for School-Age Childcare Services. The guidelines were created in consultation with children, parents and childcare providers and aim to support childcare providers to improve beyond the minimum standards set out in the regulatory framework. The guidelines include features of inspiring practices in both after-school and holiday childcare services and give central importance to children’s rights, child protection and welfare, equality and diversity, and the environment.
Lithuania: Supporting a minority language in education
The ministers responsible for education in Lithuania and in Poland have signed an agreement which establishes the use of the Polish language in the Lithuanian education system. The signed agreement includes a commitment to introduce examinations taken in Polish by 2022, provide Polish schools with Polish-language textbooks and qualified teachers, and provide Polish children who do not attend Polish schools with the option to take classes in Polish.
Malta: Education initiative for adolescents facing substance abuse
The Ministry for Education and Employment and the Foundation for The Rehabilitation Of Drug Abusers (Caritas Malta) have signed an agreement that aims to address the educational needs of adolescents with substance abuse issues who access recovery services at the Caritas tal-Ibwar Adolescents Therapeutic Services (CIATS). According to the agreement, CIATS will provide individualised education programmes to improve the skills and employability of these adolescents.
Sweden: Reducing waiting times for children with disabilities
In their draft budget for 2021, the Swedish government proposed an allocation of SEK 120 million (approximately €11.3 million) to the Swedish Social Insurance which aims to reduce the time that children with disabilities wait for their care allowances. This is part of a wider allocation within the budget to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs that is aimed at improving welfare in Sweden.
European Union: Survey on Child Guarantee
Several international children’s rights organisations have joined together and launched an online survey for children aged between 11 and 17 to share their priorities for the Child Guarantee. The Child Guarantee is meant to assure good quality of services to all children in Europe who are risk of poverty, social exclusion, or otherwise disadvantaged. The survey is open until 30 October and is available in 14 languages.
European Union: Developing the EU Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027)
The European Commission organized the 13th European Forum on the rights of the child from 29 September to 1 October. The European Commission partnered with Eurochild to ensure the participation of 50 children in shaping the Forum and in participating with adult stakeholders towards shaping the EU Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027).
International: New publication on LGBTQI+ families’ rights
NELFA (Network of European LGBTiQ Family Associations) published an overview of recent surveys and data collection efforts relating to families with LGBTQI+ parents and children (known as “rainbow families”). The overview includes status reports in European countries on issues such as marriage equality, adoption and parenthood, an index on trans rights across Europe, and information on recent numbers, laws, and quotes from families.
International: Review of leave policies in 45 countries
The International Network on Leave Policies and Research published their annual international review of leave policies for 2020. The review covers 45 countries, including the EU27, and contains a section on policy responses to the COVID19 crisis.
International: New publication on inclusive education
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a report on inclusive education, including early childhood education, which examines developments from over the last twenty years on educational policies including children with learning disabilities and special needs. The report includes recommendations to policymakers, education providers and other stakeholders to promote more effective use of education system resources.
Council of Europe: Developing the Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027)
The Council of Europe has begun preparations for shaping the next Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027). The Council of Europe held a plenary session online, aiming to involve about 100 child rights experts along with adult stakeholders, to exchange views on preparing this Strategy and to reflect on the previous 2016-2021 strategy.