The implementation of a holistic policy, including a range of interventions related to promoting children’s well-being and reducing child poverty and social exclusion should be a priority for Member States, particularly in times of economic crisis where the risk of child poverty and social exclusion is high in several Member States. This was highlighted at a conference held at the Conference Center ‘FILOXENIA’ in Nicosia on 18 and 19 October, during which recommendations were made that are expected to contribute to the forthcoming European Commission Recommendations for the Prevention and Tackling of Child Poverty and Social Exclusion and Promoting Children’s Well-being.
In her intervention, the Cyprus Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Ms Sotiroula Charalambous, said that, despite of the economic crisis, the policies implemented should have the reduction of child poverty and social exclusion as a top priority. She also stressed that it is important when making decisions concerning children to have their voices heard.
During the conference, entitled ‘Investing in Children: Preventing and tackling child poverty and social exclusion, promoting children’s well-being,’ the need to intensify such efforts at both national and European level to achieve goals and strategies for the eradication of child poverty and social exclusion was recognised. Participants stressed the importance of cooperation between the European Commission, governments, local authorities, social partners, NGOs and others stakeholders for achieving these goals.
It was highlighted that Europe’s social and economic future greatly depends on its capacity to break the transmission of poverty across generations and to eliminate inequalities. Participants stressed that child poverty and social exclusion can result in a wasted potential that Europe’s ageing societies cannot afford, while it has been shown that children growing up in situations of poverty and social exclusion are less likely than their better-off peers to do well in school, to enjoy good health and to realise their full potential later in life. Consequently, they are at a higher risk of becoming unemployed, poor and socially excluded adults themselves.
Three parallel workshops took place, facilitating the exchange of best practices in the involvement of the EU institutions, NGOs and local authorities concerning the three main pillars of children’s well-being, which are ‘access to resources’, ‘access to quality services’ and ‘children's participation’ in matters that concern them.
More specifically, with regards to adequate resources, panelists reinforced the idea that the relevant bodies should support adequate family income, provide affordable and accessible childcare, facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life, enhance family-friendly job creation and strengthen the involvement of children and their parents in decisions that affect them.
Creating a child-centered culture
In relation to access to quality services, it was agreed that there should be continuous assessment of children's needs at the local level. Additionally, a child-centered culture should be created in order to better facilitate the participation of children in matters that concern them. The voices of children should be heard, information should reach children in a child-friendly manner and support mechanisms and procedures should be developed in consultation with children themselves.
Participants supported the need for better monitoring of the impact of the crisis on children and identifying those most at risk. It is of great importance for Member States and the European Commission to monitor the impact of the crisis in order to make sure that we have effective arrangements for the ongoing and regular monitoring the effects of poverty and social exclusion of children. Such an approach should combine efficient data collection and the use of appropriate indicators.
Ministry of Labour & Social Insurance
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