As Europe celebrated the International Day for Protection of Children and the Global Day of Parents this week, the Opening Doors for Europe’s Children campaign released a call for action where it urged the EU to reinforce its support for national reforms of the child protection systems in the light of preparations for the Multiannual Financial Framework.
A coalition representing 124 international and national civil society organisations that work to improve the lives of children deprived of parental care acknowledges the pivotal role of the European Union in the transition from institutional to community-based care, also known as deinstitutionalisation (DI). The campaign urges the EU to promote appropriate allocation and spending of EU funds for deinstitutionalisation reforms. Improvement to the existing regulations such as the ex-ante conditionality on the transition from institutional to community-based care and implementation of the European Code of Conduct on Partnership are among other key demands to the European leaders. “We want to see a Europe where EU funds and EU legislation equally apply to all children without or at risk of losing parental care. We want to ensure that deinstitutionalisation becomes a priority for all European countries, including Member States, pre-accession and neighbourhood countries,” say the campaigners.
According to Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild and the Opening Doors campaign’s leader, “Deinstitutionalisation – or reform of the child protection system in a holistic way – is probably the best example where the EU has and can have an enormous positive impact on strengthening national reforms and catalysing change in a way that supports the best interests of the child.”
The call for action follows a high-level European Commission conference on transnational cooperation among the stakeholders of the European Social Fund (ESF) held on 1-2 June 2017 in Brussels. During the event, across the thematic networks such as partnership and social inclusion, representatives of ESF, public authorities, social partners and NGOs discussed how EU’s positive influence can be leveraged by making the best use of EU funds.
“Mobilising civil society to advocate for and support the development and implementation of a common vision for reform is critical to the transform of the child protection systems and ensuring that deinstitutionalisation process is irreversible. In Bulgaria, the reform was supported with an investment of more than 100 million Euro from the EU structural funds and a wide range of international and local organisations, private donors and UNICEF. Linking the different funds in support of common objectives is important for contributing to a comprehensive reform and maximising the efforts of all stakeholders,” commented Dani Koleva from the National Network for Children and national coordinator of the Opening Doors campaign in Bulgaria.
Recommendations that have been set out in the Opening Doors call for action were a follow-up to the meetings held with Opening Doors for Europe’s Children members and various EU officials from DG EMPL, DG REGIO, EEAS, DG NEAR earlier this year.