Early childhood education and care in the European Child Guarantee

Webinar — 7 April 2022, 14:00 - 16:00 CET

UNICEF ECARO
EU Child Guarantee
DSoldo/UNICEF
06 April 2022

Background

High-quality early childhood education and care lays the foundations for later success in life in terms of education, well-being, employability, and social integration. It is especially important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds as highlighted in the Council Recommendation establishing the Child Guarantee, and ensuring the provision of high-quality early childhood education and care is, therefore, also an efficient and effective investment in education and training.

Every child in the European Union (EU) has the right to affordable and high-quality early childhood education and care, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights. Educational attainment should be decoupled from social, economic and cultural status. In May 2019, the Council of the EU adopted a Recommendation on high-quality early childhood education and care systems approved by the education ministers of EU Member States. The Council Recommendation  supports Member States in their efforts to improve access to and the quality of early childhood education and care. The Council Recommendation includes a Quality framework, which identified key components of a qualitative system. While legal access to ECEC has significantly expanded over the last 10 years, there are still challenges with equitable access, inclusion, and quality within ECEC sectors. ECEC has been proven to support inclusion and help mitigate negative impacts of poverty on children’s education and development, and as such the EU Child Guarantee's aim to promote ECEC as a tool to address child poverty and social exclusion. The Child Guarantee provides countries with an opportunity to leverage ESF+ funding to strengthen access to ECEC from 0-6, as well as quality of provision in formal and informal settings, improving inclusion of children with disabilities, children AROPE and children from marginalized communities.

 

Objectives

The Webinar will highlight the vital role that ECEC play in addressing poverty and social exclusion and its role in contributing to the EU Child Guarantee’s agenda. The webinar will also highlight progress made in ECEC provision as well as some of the gaps that still exist in terms of ECEC participation and quality, as well as challenges related to fragmentation of coordination and gaps in financing. The webinar will emphasize the unique opportunity provided by the CG to amplify the ECEC agenda, and strengthen national, regional and local level ECEC provision, funding and coordination.

Using examples from Child Guarantee Phase III pilot countries as well as other member states, the webinar will highlight programmatic interventions, partnerships and targets being used to accelerate the ECEC agenda, ensuring that access goes hand-in-hand with equity, quality and inclusion. It will also highlight the importance of representation of ECEC into national plans and budgets and provide a platform for policy makers to discuss how they elevate the ECEC agenda to inform countries in the process. The webinar will also acknowledge the ongoing response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis across member states and the medium to long term integration of children into ECEC systems.

Agenda

14:00 - 14:05

Moderator: Ivelina Borisova, Regional Advisor, Early Childhood Development, UNICEF ECARO

Opening of the conference 

14:05 - 14:20

Opening Panel

Mr. Jiri Svarc, Head of Unit DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Mr. Philippe Cori, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia 

14:20 - 14:40

Achieving the EU’s Targets for Transformation in ECEC Quality, inclusion and access to break poverty and inequality cycles in Europe

UNICEF Europe and Central Asia  

14:40 - 15:10

Experiences in strengthening ECEC in country to reach most marginalized, presented by government representatives 

Croatia - Tomislav Paljak, State Secretary for Education, The Ministry of Science and Education

Bulgaria - Vanya Georgieva, State expert and coordinator of the ECEC Quality Framework

15:10 - 15:55

Panel Discussion – Integrating ECEC into National Plans and Budget

Government Representatives from Member States - Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Italy

  • Anna Maria Serafini, National Coordinator for the Child Guarantee, Italy
  • Albert Arcarons, Advisor for the High Commissioner against Child Poverty, Spain
  • Viktoria Kirilova, state expert at Inclusive Education Directorate, Bulgaria
  • Representative from Greece - TBD

15:55 - 16:00

Closing of the Conference

Mr. Jiri Svarc, Head of Unit, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

With the main goal of reducing child poverty and social exclusion for all children across the European Union, the European Commission, in partnership with UNICEF, is implementing  “Phase III of the pilot programme: Testing the Child Guarantee” in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Spain.    

Croatia has been given the opportunity to test the EU Child Guarantee in cooperation with European Commission and UNICEF to tackle child poverty and social exclusion. To develop models of new services and best practices for children and their families, UNICEF is using its experience, partnerships and capacities by modelling integrated multidisciplinary, adequately funded community and family-based services in Medjimurje County, the region with limited access to child protection and family support services. UNICEF's approach includes three components/areas: access to child protection and family support services, access to early childhood education and access to early childhood intervention services. 

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