Stepping up implementation of the EU Child Guarantee: National action plans in the spotlight

Father and toddler cooking

By calling on EU Member States to guarantee access to basic rights and services for children in need and their families, the Child Guarantee represents a pivotal and timely instrument to enhance the protection of children experiencing poverty and social exclusion. Moreover, it lays the foundation for a stronger social and equity-driven Europe. Over the last months, it has been up to each EU Member State to draw up their Child Guarantee national action plans to outline how the framework will concretely be implemented in their respective countries until 2030.

The war in Ukraine and the ensuing crisis shows again that it is by consolidating family support systems, based on a mix of resources, services, and leaves which are accessible to all families without discrimination, that the European Union will be resilient and strong enough to absorb shocks.

COFACE and AGF hosted an expert meeting in Berlin to:

  • examine the measures highlighted in the national action plans on the Child Guarantee to boost family supports;
  • study policy and service solutions to enhance child and family well-being;
  • bring together family policy-makers working to improve outcomes for children and their families;
  • boost the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.

Working languages: English and German

Participation on invitation only.

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Key takeaways

  • Technical guidelines for implementation was highlighted as one way to support national ministries in the implementation process. Guidelines on measurement, indicators, monitoring, evaluation. Going via the Technical Support Instrument is a great opportunity of course, and used by many with lots of added value. But maybe an operational document with general technical guidelines (and not country-specific) could boost implementation further.
  • The biennial European Commission report on implementation could include both policy and funding updates, namely on the use of EU funds for the Child Guarantee.
  • Working in partnership with the target groups remains central, and civil society organisations are there to facilitate this.
  • Child participation can take many forms, from more simple to more elaborate forms. That diversity of participation forms can be a big help to bring the voices of children to the process in a meaningful way.
  • The importance of the Child Guarantee coordinator cannot be underestimated, to bring a transversal approach to the implementation process and to function as ambassador for the Child Guarantee in other ministries.
  • Key governance pointers were mentioned such as having a focal point on the CG in each ministry or in each region, creating a children’s council, building interdepartmental committees for coordination, developing local action plans (relevant given regional/local differences highlighted today), allocating specific budgets for implementation in national budgets but also in the EU funds.
  • Whether building on existing laws or developing new laws, any approach is relevant, respected and valued. However, two points are essential: embedding the Child Guarantee as much as possible in national legal&policy processes, and also ensuring that family diversity is recognized in national legislation, to ensure full access to social rights and financial supports to deal with difficult life transitions.
  • The challenges of today are many (COVID, war, inflation), but they can help highlight gaps in our social systems and help focus on filling these gaps.

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Useful links

May 2019: Council Recommendation on High-Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Systems
This recommendation identifies 5 key components of a qualitative system: access to early childhood education and care; training and working conditions of staff in charge of early childhood education and care; definition of appropriate curricula; governance and funding; monitoring and evaluation of systems. The Quality Framework has already supported reforms in many countries and helped improving the offer of early childhood education and care.

June 2021: Council Recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee
In September 2022, the following countries had published their National Action Plans on the Child Guarantee: Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden. More here

September 2022: Proposal for a Council Recommendation on Early childhood education and care
This was proposed by the European Commission as part of the European Care Strategy package launched on 7th September, and should be adopted by the Council of the EU by end of 2022. More here

Alliance for investing in Children
The EU Alliance for Investing in Children brings together over 20 European networks sharing a commitment to end child poverty and to promote child well-being across Europe.

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