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 May 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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Belgium: New parental leave during COVID-19
The Belgian government has announced a special parental leave designed to support parents during the COVID-19 crisis (congé parental corona). Between 01 May and 30 June, this leave can be taken by parents of children who are under the age of 12 or have a child with special educational needs. Compensation for this parental leave will be 25% higher than parents’ usual parental leave allocation.
Bulgaria: One-off allowance to support families during COVID-19
The ministry of labour and social policy (Министерство на труда и социалната политика) has announced a new one-off allowance that will be paid to families with children under 14 with one or both parents who are unemployed but not entitled to unemployment benefit. The allowance of 375 BGN (approximately €190) is designed to support families that are suffering from serious financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Denmark: Funding to provide summer holidays to vulnerable families
The ministry with responsibility for social affairs (Social- og Indenrigsministeriets) has announced that seventeen organisations and charities will be given funds to help vulnerable families go on summer holidays. In total, the organisations will receive DKK 9.7 million (approximately €1.3 million) over the next two years which has been taken from the reserve funds in the social field following the agreement of the Danish parliament (Folketing).
Denmark: Funding to support vulnerable groups during COVID-19 crisis
On 17 April, all political parties in the Danish parliament (Folketing) finalised an agreement to fund a number of initiatives that are designed to support vulnerable groups, including children and young people, during the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing societal changes. These initiatives include providing funding to support vulnerable children and young people living in families with substance misuse.
Estonia: Changes in regulations for children with disabilities
On 01 May, legislative amendments designed to simplify the administration around receiving support for disabled people entered into force (§ 22 section 5 of the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act). The amendment lowers the frequency for re-assessment of the disability for children (aged under 16 years old) who have an unchanging or progressive permanent disability.
Germany: Governmental funding for youth counselling platform
Since May 2020, the Federal Ministry of Youth (Bundesjugendministerium) has provided funding for ‘JugendNotmail’ (Youth Emergency email). This is a youth emergency counselling platform that has been operating since 2001 and which offers free online counselling for children and young people. The additional federal funding will be used to expand the platform’s capacity and to develop an app through which children and young people can access support.
Greece: Leave for working parents with children in ECEC
The Greek government has announced that working parents of children in early childhood education and care will be entitled to take a special leave from work in order to look after their children while early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres are closed during the COVID-19 crisis. For parents who are employed in the private sector, the government will cover 1/3 of their wages, while the rest must be paid by employers.
Greece: Registration for ECEC moves online
The Greek government has announced that parents and guardians will now be able to register online for places at early childhood education and care centres (ECEC) for their children. This is part of an initiative to modernise public services and to encourage physical distancing during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ireland: Funding for youth-led climate justice action
The Ministry for Children and Youth Affairs has announced a fund to support youth-led action and innovation on climate justice at the community, regional and national levels. Nearly €500,000 of funding will be available in 2020 through the Youth Climate Justice Fund to support various projects and initiatives, with applications open to all national youth organisations.
Latvia: Free hotline offering support to parents
From 11 May to 17 May, the inspectorate with responsibility for protecting children’s rights (Valsts bērnu tiesību aizsardzības inspekcijas Bērnu un pusaudžu) ran a campaign called ‘Es audzinu viens!’ (I am raising one!) which allowed all parents and guardians (including adoptive and foster parents) to receive psychological assistance and support in matters concerning children via a hotline.
Lithuania: Family Card app launched
From May 2020, the Lithuanian Family Card can now be accessed via a Family Card app. This virtual card is an additional and equivalent way of accessing the physical Family Card, which offers discounts to families with more than three children.
Malta: Distribution of books to children in residential homes
The Ministry for Education and Employment and the Ministry for the Family, Children's Rights and Social Solidarity have launched a new initiative to distribute books to children living in residential homes in Malta. This new initiative, called 'Books are your best friends', will provide books in the Maltese and English languages for children and young people and is part of the National Literacy Agency’s campaign to encourage children of all ages to read more.
Spain: Children able to ask questions on the COVID-19 crisis
On 18 April, the High Commissioner for Combating Child Poverty (Alto Comisionado para la Lucha contra la Pobreza Infantil) and the Children's Platform (Plataforma de Infancia) launched the #LaInfanciaPregunta initiative: which encourages children from all backgrounds and ages to pass on their concerns and questions about the COVID-19 crisis to the Spanish government. Children were able to send their questions electronically or through telephone through the Children’s Platform (which is a network of almost 70 organisations who aim to defend children's rights) which were then sent by the High Commissioner to relevant political representatives. The questions and concerns were then addressed in a governmental press conference.
Slovakia: New materials for tackling violence against children
The ministry with responsibility for employment, social affairs and family (Ministerstvo Práce, Sociálnych vecí a Rodiny) has developed new materials that aim to tackle violence against children and trafficking in children. These flyers and brochures aim to draw attention to the risk factors that may lead to trafficking in children or violence against children and will be distributed online and in schools.
COFACE Families Europe: Webinars about digital citizenship
To mark the International Day of Families on the 15 May 2020, COFACE Families Europe organised a series of eight short webinars that discussed digital citizenship and the ways in which families can be supported to use technology to its fullest potential. These webinars were based on COFACE Europe’s 13 digitalisation principles which aim to ensure that digitalisation and new technological developments serve the general interest of all European citizens and families.