Break the cycle of disadvantage and invest in children

One in four children in the EU are at risk of poverty and social exclusion – losing out on healthcare, education and other basic rights – creating a vicious cycle where not only children are affected but society as a whole. Children need to live better childhoods now and their fundamental rights must be respected. Social Platform is calling on the Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs to coordinate all policies affecting children’s lives to break the cycle of disadvantage. 

In the European Union increasing numbers of children are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, many are exposed to material deprivation, low quality housing, poor nutrition, and inadequate, inaccessible or unaffordable healthcare and education. The economic crisis has resulted in particularly harsh consequences for children and families, exacerbated by austerity measures that attack social policies and social spending. 

“Children’s fundamental rights must be respected. Every day throughout Europe children’s human rights, which are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, are being infringed. Increasing numbers of children are facing significant disadvantages in education and health, often compounded over life. This cycle of poverty poses a serious threat to future generations and urgently needs to be addressed” said Heather Roy, President of Social Platform. 

Breaking the cycle of disadvantage for children will not happen unless children can enjoy their fundamental rights. These are the basis for the promotion of equality and the fight against discrimination, as well as for the commitment to redistributive policies that reduce income and wealth inequalities. Social Platform is calling on the Ministers to ensure a comprehensive approach to policies for investing in children and for social investment in general (looking at the larger social and economic context) to properly address this situation. 

“Breaking the cycle of disadvantage requires an integrated approach that brings together traditionally separate policy agendas of social inclusion and social protection, education, health, housing, child care, equality and employment,” says Jana Hainsworth, member of Social Platform’s Management Committee and Secretary General of Eurochild, “It requires coordination to ensure that these policies mutually reinforce each other in delivering on the improvement of children’s wellbeing and daily living conditions.”

Social Platform calls on the informal EPSCO Council meeting of July 11-12, taking place in Vilnius, Lithuania, to take a comprehensive and rights based approach when developing policies for investing in children, including: 

  • Ensure coherence between social, health, education and employment policies and between funds and programmes under the MFF, in order to achieve the Europe 2020 goals and to fight intergenerational poverty and inequalities. This needs to be supported with the proper resources.
  • Engage with NGOs to identify and map best practices and Involve all relevant stakeholders in a meaningful and structured way for developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating social and other relevant policies. 
  • Ensure quality, accessibility, availability, affordability and adequacy of services, benefits and other forms of support and opportunities.

Read our full contribution to the informal EPSCO