ELFAC has sent its opinion on Child Guarantee initiative to the European Commission

The Child Guarantee is meant to ensure that all children in Europe who are at risk of poverty, social exclusion, or are otherwise disadvantaged, have access to essential services of good quality.

It will recommend that EU countries invest in and develop strategies and action plans to ensure that children in need have access to free or affordable services such as:

  • education, including early childhood education & care
  • healthcare, nutrition & housing
  • culture & leisure activities

A feedback period was opened by European Commission until 7th. October 2020. Feedback will be taken into account for further development and fine tuning of the initiative. The Commission will summarise the input received in a synopsis report explaining how the input will be taken on board and, if applicable, why certain suggestions can’t be taken up.

The feedback sent by ELFAC

In Europe, only 1/3 of households have children. 16,4% of couples with no children are in poverty, 30,9% of couples with 3 and more children are in poverty. Having (more) children is a poverty risk factor.

ELFAC -the European Large Families Confederation- welcomes and supports the European Child Guarantee (ECG). For the first time, Europe reserves a special measure for children, which are the most vulnerable part of society. In Europe 4 out of 10 children live in poverty and social exclusion: it is time for the European Union to take care of them as the most important, valuable, sustainable and productive investment a society can do. The ECG represents a new awareness of an aging and shrinking Continent, a tool to reach equity among Countries and within each Nation.

According to ELFAC, the EGC is a great opportunity for:

  1. combating child economic, cultural and relational poverty;
  2. putting the well-being of children and their development at the agenda of European and national policies;
  3. promoting the growth and development of all children, including the most disadvantaged groups, providing fair opportunities for all.

For this reason, it should be taken into consideration that:

  • The best place to raise a child is his/her family and his/her well-being depends on that of his/her family.
  • Recent reports from UN DESA also underline that fighting child poverty means fighting the poverty of the families with children, providing them with (economic, cultural, services, work) tools to get out of the vicious circle of poverty. Family is recognized as a key factor to achieve global goal n. 1, fighting poverty. Families should not be ignored when drafting the EGC.
  • The best way to combat poverty is to prevent it: the EGC should not only have a care/repair function aimed at families with children in financial difficulties. It should not be a welfarism social measure but a supportive investment on human capital. The EGC could represent a set of structured measures addressing poverty in all its aspects and should be universal so that every would-be parent can look at the possibility of having the children they want without fearing the risk of poverty that having a child entails today. In this sense, the EGC could envisage compensatory measures with respect to the costs of raising and educating children (for example, through a tax system that recognizes parents’ expenses for education, housing, caring and health of their children).
  • The EGC could consist of an economic recognition ( a fiscal one, or a sum of money per child as it is recognized in Poland) but also the establishment of a fund to make territories  “child-friendly” and “family-friendly”, guaranteeing (through the EGC) services for the birth and harmonious development of the child in the community, such as: birth points, maternity counselling centers, family centers, play areas, training for couples, parents, grandparents, kindergartens, care services, parks, green areas, cycle paths, protected home-school routes, cultural events and services, sports services, proximity care services (‘tagesmutter’, quarter nurses, co-housing…), school, transport…The ECG will be built up with the  collaboration of the vice-presidency for Demography,  but also her colleagues that are in charge of the environment, regions and rural areas, providing funds and policies to make municipalities more family (and children) friendly. 

The Child Guarantee calls for a broader strategic vision on children that goes well beyond the great ambition to combat child poverty. It should promote the well-being of children -of all children, no one excluded- while taking into account the child in an holistic, inclusive way. 

Even if children are present in only 1/3 of households in Europe, they should be the main concern of the whole society: as the old African motto says, it takes a whole village to raise a child. It’s time to make Europe a better place for our children.

The opinion of ELFAC is published on the ‘Have your say’ website of the European Commission.

You can also read here the contribution of the Hungarian Large Families Association – NOE

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