The Opening Doors for Europe’s Children campaign calls on the EU to reinforce its support for national reforms of the child protection systems in order to strengthen families, provide quality preventative and alternative care services and to end institutional care for Europe’s children.
A coalition representing 124 international and national civil society organisations from 16 countries across Europe acknowledges the pivotal role of the European Union in the transition from institutional to community-based care, also known as deinstitutionalisation (DI). The campaigners urge the EU to promote appropriate allocation and spending of EU funds for deinstitutionalisation reforms and to improve 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. “We want to see a Europe where EU funds and EU legislation equally apply to all children deprived of parental care. We want to ensure that deinstitutionalisation becomes a priority for all European countries, including Member States, pre-accession and neighbourhood countries,” call 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 campaign provides recommendations to the European Union in their preparation of the next Multiannual Financial Framework and in particular the post-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds. The call for action, released on 2 June 2017, follows a high-level European Commission conference on transnational cooperation among the stakeholders of the European Social Fund (ESF). 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.