The experience of the Italian Network of Family-Friendly Municipalities presented in Rome

The congress was held on Wednesday 29 March at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

The Italian Network was founded on 7 October 2017 by the Autonomous Province of Trento, the National Association of Large Families and the Municipality of Alghero. Today 150 municipalities have placed family well-being at the center of their administrative action.

Eugenia Roccella, the minister of the family, birth rate and equal opportunities , the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference Matteo Zuppi , the president of the autonomous province of Trento Maurizio Fugatti and the Bishop of Trento Mons. Lauro Tisi were present.

Italian Large Families Association (ANFN) was represented by the president of the Association Alfredo Catalbiano , the national coordinators of the Network Mauro Ledda and Filomena Cappiello, and Lucio Coticelli for the National Council. Representing the European Confederation of Large Families (ELFAC) were President Regina Maroncelli and Secretary General Raul Sanchez.

“The government’s strategy in support of the family, and therefore in favor of the birth rate against the demographic crisis, is not limited to the regulatory plan alone. For us, this is an absolute priority, as we have already demonstrated in these first months of activity. We therefore intend to stimulate a different cultural climate from that of recent years, in which the family in Italy has too often been mistreated. And we want to promote a common challenge because this challenge concerns everyone: national institutions, local authorities, businesses, social partners, volunteers – said Minister Roccella – Our goal is to build a welfare of proximity, with a fully subsidiary spirit, which is not limited to economic aspects but help families in terms of services. In this sense it is essential to systematize the many good practices that exist in our territories and in respect of which the Trentino area boasts examples of excellence. Initiatives such as that of the Network of Family-Friendly Municipalities are therefore of great help for a bet that we must win together.

In his speech, the president of ANFN Alfredo Catalbiano underlined that “among the distinctive features of the Network, the role of family associations should be highlighted, which acted as a “leaven” in the process of diffusion throughout the national territory . As well as the principle of horizontal subsidiarity, which sees families as protagonists, and which are considered not as a problem, but as a resource, for the achievement of general family well-being. Because if families are fine, our society is fine too!”.

Businesses and municipalities are called upon to form an alliance

“Being “family friendly” means being attentive to the needs of the weakest, starting with children – explained Regina Maroncelli, from ELFAC – It concerns all the spheres of interest of an administration and requires a new organic and holistic look at every aspect of the life of a city. 125 Italian municipalities have been infected by this principle and we are infecting Europe: cities from Portugal, Greece, Latvia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Spain and Italy have joined the European Network. But that’s not enough for us: now we also want to infect businesses, which share the negative repercussions of falling birth rates with many municipalities, can’t find workers and see them flee in search of better shores. Businesses and municipalities are called upon to form an alliance to give their citizens and workers the space, the time, the place to be able to fully live their life projects.”

The general manager of the Agency for social cohesion of the Autonomous Province of Trento, Luciano Malfer, spoke on the strengths of the “Municipality Family-Friendly” process : “The municipalities dedicated to family policies are a model of national excellence and there are over 150 throughout Italy, distributed in 11 regions. All together – he continued – they have developed over 3,000 concrete actions to support families and the birth rate and without additional costs for the budget of the municipal administrations. The secret? – said the manager – it is found in applying the right method for each territorial reality and to respond to the specific needs of the communities. We need a new approach to the family that is a resource and not a cost and a network that allows for the exchange of good practices, such as our Network, learning to gradually rethink the use of resources in a family-oriented way. A winning strategy that brings benefits to citizens and local administrators, wellbeing for families, cohesion in the community, a collective sense of responsibility, trust in institutions and the tourist-economic attractiveness of municipalities’.”

11 mayors from the 11 regions where the netwok is present

In its second session, the congress gave the floor to the municipalities which were the first, in each of the 11 Italian regions involved, to believe in the value of pathways to support families and have obtained the certification of “Municipality friend of the family”. The eleven testimonials enriched the interventions of the institutions by bringing with great passion examples of actions carried out, goals achieved, emotions and plans for the future.

The intervention of Vera and Stefano Zamagni,  professors at John Hopkins University, was of great depth and vision  , who spoke of the social and economic value of the “Municipality friend of the family” process “The aim of our intervention is twofold. On the one hand, to show that the “network of family-friendly municipalities” project constitutes a successful example of circular subsidiarity, i.e. of that model of social order towards which our whole country should go, if it really wants to take decisive steps towards the deliberative dimension . On the other hand, the project in question does justice to the way in which Italy has so far treated the family, as a basic institution of our constitutional order”.

Stefano Zamagni underlined how co-programming and co-planning are the most mature method to be aimed at with a view to true and mature implementation of circular subsidiarity which must see the third sector as the protagonist together with the state and the market, in a perspective of reciprocity, of a real family policy.

A wish and a goal that we make our own, so that the role and value of families are increasingly at the center of our countries’ actions.

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