The Child Guarantee: Phase III – “Testing the Child Guarantee in the EU Member States”
UNICEF pilots innovative approaches aimed at breaking the cycle of child poverty and social exclusion
The European Child Guarantee:
Poverty and social exclusion can have a profound impact on the lives of children, preventing them from accessing basic services such as healthcare, education, nutritious food, quality housing and childcare. For the poorest families, including those who do not have access to social protection, the situation is dire. Children suffer poverty differently from adults and they are more likely to experience lifelong consequences from it. Malnutrition can last a lifetime, having long-term consequences on children’s physical, social and emotional development. And losses in learning at a young age can result in children falling behind in school, finding it difficult to ever catch up. Without access to health care, children could miss out on vaccines that could be life-saving in later years and the treatment necessary to grow up healthy and thrive.
The Child Guarantee aims to ensure that vulnerable children have access to these quality services. UNICEF, in partnership with the European Commission, is working with national and sub-national authorities and select civil society organisations, children and young people to design and implement services and interventions that reduce the effects of poverty and social exclusion on children in need of support and protection. This includes the most vulnerable children, such as Roma children, children in institutional care, children with disabilities and refugee and migrant children.
The European Child Guarantee was approved unanimously by a Council Recommendation on 14 June 2021.
“ensure the participation of regional, local and other relevant authorities, children and relevant stakeholders representing civil society, non-governmental organisations, educational establishments and bodies responsible for promoting social inclusion and integration, children’s rights, inclusive education and non-discrimination, including national equality bodies throughout the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the [Child Guarantee National] action plan”3
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one quarter of Europe’s children were at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been felt across countries—from the economic and social impacts of national lockdowns, to the near collapse of overburdened health systems, to the loss of learning opportunities for children due to school closures, and to the strains felt by families both financially and psychologically.
Poverty and social exclusion are expected to rise in the coming years as the crisis continues to impact the socio-economic situation in Member States across Europe. The causes and impacts of child poverty are multidimensional as access to health, education, childcare, leisure, food, health and housing are all interlinked.
UNICEF is working to address the underlying causes of child poverty and social exclusion, by examining policies needed to accelerate change and modeling innovative approaches. The aim is to ensure that the most vulnerable children can break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage, and are given an equitable chance in life. Addressing child poverty and social exclusion has clear benefits for children now and in the future, and for society as a whole.
Poor children often lack access to basic quality services
Building a more resilient Europe starts with children. The post-COVID-19 recovery plans must foster resilience and strengthen systems so that they are resilient to future crisis. For the most vulnerable and excluded children, addressing material deprivation will not enough. High quality, inclusive, accessible, affordable social services are critical to reaching the most vulnerable and breaking intergenerational cycles of disadvantage.
In response to these challenges, UNICEF, in partnership with the European Commission – Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL) is implementing a 2-year project to support the implementation of Phase III of Child Guarantee Project in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Spain. These countries will be testing innovative approaches to inform the developments of national Action Plans to reduce child poverty and address systematic disadvantages for particularly vulnerable groups of children and ensure that these vulnerable children and their families have access to quality services. Working in consultation and close partnership with national and sub-national authorities and civil society organisations, children, families and communities. UNICEF will design and implement services and interventions that have demonstrable impact on child poverty and social exclusion.
UNICEF advocates for policy frameworks to trigger actions and investments for vulnerable and excluded children
In this Phase III of the Child Guarantee, the focus will be on strengthening the capacity of national and sub-national authorities to deliver services, care and support to vulnerable children and their families, including improving access to education, healthcare, education, nutritious food, quality housing and childcare. Best-practices as well as concrete, localized policy-interventions that contribute to providing children with access to healthcare, education, childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition will be identified. In parallel, UNICEF will support strengthening the capacity of Member States to regularly collect, analyse and submit data on indicators relating to child poverty and social exclusion.
The Child Guarantee will introduce innovative approaches
to national budgeting and planning
Evidence generation and analysis of existing national policies, frameworks and tools for addressing child poverty and social exclusion will inform the development of an EU-wide framework for addressing poverty and social exclusion.
© UNICEF, 2021 “The information and views set out in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.”