ELFAC denounces the absence of the family in the discussions about the European Child Guarantee

The European Parliament has published a briefing on the European Child Guarantee proposal, an initiative to fight against child poverty in Europe. ELFAC wants to express its concern because in all this debate the role of the family is absent, and it is only mentioned in terms of its situation of vulnerability.

The briefing for the EMPL committee on the form to be given to the Child Guarantee raises many doubts. The Child Guarantee is a key measure to tackle child poverty, a reality for more than 4 out of 10 children in Europe, which the Covid19 crisis has worsened for sure.

The briefing calls for further discussion, but we feel urgent to underline some important elements that might negatively affect the shaping of the Child Guarantee.

The briefing, and in particular the Key Findings, ignore the key role of the family in tackling child poverty.  In all 4 pages “family” is only mentioned twice in relation to care and vulnerable situations. Only the improvement of services seems to be the answer to break the cycle of poverty: even in reporting the “integrated holistic approach” suggested by the European Alliance for Investing in Children, where families play a fundamental role, family is simply omitted.

Yet the Covid19 pandemic has clearly shown the irreplaceable role of the family: families have been  able to manage the crisis, replacing in the emergency all “external” agencies and services to deal with the care, health, nutrition, education, entertainment (…) of children. Thanks to the sacrifice and toil of the families, society has been able to continue to function in an almost normal way.

The family environment, recognized as fundamental to achieving the global goal n1 of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Agenda, played an important role in the 2013 Recommendations “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage”, where, among others, it is recommended to “sustain investment in children and families ” and “Support family income”. Of that, nothing is mentioned in the briefing.

Having children is a poverty risk factor today: statistics tell us that 16.4% of childless couples are in poverty compared to 30.9% of couples with 3 or more children. To break the vicious circle of child poverty, it is necessary to intervene at the root, eliminating the factors that link the birth of a child to poverty, compensating the parent’s income spent on the children.

ELFAC calls the European Commission to take into a new and better consideration the family which, properly supported and empowered, is not the problem, but the solution to child poverty. Having children cannot and must not constitute a penalty.

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