The Campaign

Across Europe hundreds of thousands of children are growing up in institutional care. The consequences are devastating for children, devastating for families and ultimately, devastating for society as a whole.

This situation persists in spite of overwhelming evidence which demonstrates that a loving family environment is crucial to a child’s development and that family-based care is more effective than institutional care for children in the long term.

This campaign is about “Opening Doors for Europe’s Children” now for a more equitable, prosperous Europe in the future.

Our goal is to improve the quality of life of children and young people in, at risk of entering, or leaving institutional care across Europe. We want to achieve this by promoting the transition from institutional to family-based care, also called Deinstitutionalisation (DI). We call on national governments to fulfil their responsibility to support families and provide quality alternative care for children. By showcasing positive practice developed by NGOs across Europe we hope to support governments in this process.

We also call on the European Union (EU) to keep DI high on the political agenda and support progress at national level. We work in partnership with organisations at national level to ensure that EU policy guidance and funding tools are used effectively to deliver the best outcomes for children and families.

Now more than ever, the EU has a critical role to play. Parts of the next 7-year budget of the EU (2014-2020), in particular structural funds and pre-accession funds, can be used to support the transition from institutional to community and family-based care. In February 2013 the European Commission’s Social Investment Package calls on member states to invest in human capital and social cohesion. Within that the Recommendation “Investing in children, breaking the cycle of disadvantage” explicitly calls on member states to ‘stop the expansion of institutional care settings for children without parental care; and promote quality, community-based care and foster care within family settings instead, where children’s voice is given due consideration’.

Concerted political will to implement this policy guidance and use EU funding has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of children across Europe.

Our Allies

We are working alongside the following associated campaigns:

  • Call to Action – focuses on ending the placement of children under three years in institutions (UNICEF)
  • Care for me! focuses on standards in alternative care (SOS Children’s Villages)

Eurochild is member of the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care a broad coalition gathering stakeholders representing people with care or support needs including children, people with disabilities, people experiencing mental health problems, families; as well as service providers, public authorities and intergovernmental organisations.

Read more about institutional care in Europe or find out which countries are involved.