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 June 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.
Austria: Online summer courses for migrant children and families
The Austrian government has launched online summer courses for migrant children who need support with German language learning with the aim of ensuring that these children do not fall behind in their education. To support these children’s learning, free courses for parents on the Austrian educational systems will also be available.
Belgium: Steps to implement digital learning strategy in Wallonia
The government of Wallonia has approved a grant that will fund the distribution of 6,000 computers to schools in the Wallonia region of Belgium by September 2020. The grant is one step in the government’s ‘Digital School’ (‘Ecole numerique’) strategy, which aims to help children gain digital skills with a particular focus on enabling remote learning during the societal lockdown from COVID19.
Greece: Pilot programme to help develop soft skills
The Ministry of Education has launched a pilot programme 'Skills Labs' in a number of schools for the academic year 2020-2021. The programme aims to help primary and secondary school students improve their soft skills, life skills and science and technology skills. Educational material that is used for the programme will also be available in modified versions for students with learning difficulties, disabilities, language and cultural differences or other needs.
Italy: Family Act passed by government
On 11 June, the Italian government approved the Family Act, which includes several measures that aim to support families with children and to encourage the reconciliation of family life and work life. Through this bill, the Italian government will establish a monthly universal allowance for all dependent children, reform various types of family leave, provide incentives for women with care responsibilities to enter the workforce, and develop policies that will support families with educational and school expenses. These changes are expected to enter into force in the next 12 to 24 months.
Germany: Economic stimulus package includes measures to help families
The German federal government has announced an economic stimulus package which hopes to stimulate recovery from the COVID19 crisis and which includes measures to support families and children. The package includes an increase in the support available for single parents, the introduction of a ‘child bonus’ that will be paid to parents on behalf of each child, and investments to expand the capacity of early childhood education and care facilities throughout the country.
Finland: Report on child wellbeing during COVID19
On 24 June, a working group appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health published an initial report on the effects of the COVID19 crisis on the wellbeing and rights of children. The report highlights concerns that the COVID19 crisis has increased the inequality and marginalisation experienced by children and young people. The report also suggests a number of post-crisis measures (including providing support to families with low incomes and enhancing mental health and child welfare service) which will be used in the preparation of the next National Child Strategy in Finland.
Ireland: Initiative to support children entering school for the first time
On 15 June, the Ministry for Children and Youth Affairs launched the ‘Let’s Get Ready’ initiative which provides information and resources for children entering pre-school and primary school for the first time in September and their parents. The resources contain steps for supporting children through their first months at school and tips on what to expect at school.
Ireland: Funding to support the reopening of childcare facilities
The Ministry for Children and Youth Affairs have announced a funding package that aims to support early childhood education and care (ECEC) facilities that are reopening following closure during the COVID19 crisis. The package includes a grant that is designed to support centres with the additional staffing, training, material and cleaning costs that may arise as a result of the precautions designed to prevent the spread of COVID19.
Lithuania: Increase in child allowance
The Lithuanian parliament has approved a bill that will increase child allowances (vaiko pinigų) with the aim of mitigating negative socioeconomic consequences of the COVID19 crisis. Child allowance will increase from €60 per child to €120 per child each month and children with disabilities or from low-income families will receive up to €200 per month.
Latvia: Proposals to improve child rights protection
The Ministry of Welfare has released a report that includes several recommendations for improvements to the child rights protection system in Latvia. Proposals include establishing a central child rights protection institution and renaming the institutions known as ‘orphans’ courts’ (bāriņtiesu) to better reflect the modern child protection services that they provide. These proposals form one stage of the ministry’s development for further guidelines for children, youth and family that will cover the period of 2021 to 2027.
Europe: Results of survey on gender stereotypes in toys
On 16 June, COFACE Families Europe published the findings of their survey on Toys and Diversity which aimed to explore the factors that influence families and children when they buy toys. The survey collected more than 2,000 responses from all EU Member States and found that 80% of respondents believed gender-neutral toys and advertising would reduce gender-based stereotypes while 9 out of 10 respondents agreed that current toy advertising accentuates gender-based stereotypes.