The Danish Presidency gave special attention to: trends in child poverty in different EU Member States and crisis responses, mainstreaming children’s rights approach in all key policies, and access to family support measures, early childhood education and children’s participation.
The conference was opened by the Danish Minister for Social Affairs and Integration and the HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
The morning session opened with inputs on the different International rights’ frameworks with key inputs from Margaret Tuite, European Commission coordinator for the rights of the child (DG Justice), Elodie Fazi, European Commission for DG Employment responsible for the development of the upcoming Commission Recommendation on Child Poverty; Marta Maurás, Vice President of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and Agnes von Maravic, Children Rights’ Division, Directorate General of Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Council of Europe.
This was followed by comparative inputs from Social Ministries in Ireland, France, Belgium and Hungary and in the afternoon by workshop debates on 3 areas:
1) Access to family support measures – with a focus on integrated parental support approaches to prevent child neglect from the UK;
2) Effective child participation in policy-making and implementation highlighting good practice particularly in Wales, UK and
3) Early childhood education and care approaches from Denmark.
The Presidency Conclusions (oral presentation) from the conference were:
1. The need to reinforce the fight against Child Poverty, particularly in a time of crisis.
2. Social protection at the heart – well developed and evaluated programmes.
3. Early identification of families and children at risk and the need to work with front-line staff.
4. The key role of the family and relationships in the community and other key institutions/ eg school
5. Child participation needs to be promoted at service/policy level.
6. Adequate and well designed benefit systems are vital. The conference raised useful inputs particularly on the importance of Right’s frameworks, highlighting the worsening situation of child poverty across the EU, exacerbated by Government’s policy choices as a response to the crisis.
A key message was the need to protect and defend social protection systems, but also ensure their efficiency and effectiveness.
The conference deepened debate on the 3 pillar approach promoted by the Adhoc Group from the SPC – family support ( access to work and minimum income), access to services and children’s rights and participation, but focused in the workshops primarily on children’s support services and early learning, with a weaker focus on adequate income, or tackling the strategic causes of child poverty.
A strong focus was given to children’s participation but not always with a clear link to how to involve children from low –income and disadvantaged families, or the specific objectives/methods of participation. The example of the French Government set an important focus of the need to defend universal services, as well as targeted approaches for specific groups, in a time of crisis.