Leading experts in childcare reform met at the European Parliament in Brussels today to call on the EU to end institutional care for children in Europe once and for all.
Across Europe hundreds of thousands of children are growing up in institutional care. The consequences are devastating for children, for their families and ultimately, 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.
Most children growing up in institutions have low educational achievement and suffer severe delays in their physical, cognitive and emotional development. Many of these children will fall victim to trafficking, exploitation, unemployment, homelessness and depression on leaving the care system. The real tragedy is that most of these children are not orphans but have been separated from their families as a result of poverty.
At today’s event, hosted by Mairead McGuinness MEP, Vice-chairman EPP Group, Eurochild and Hope and Homes for Children launched “Opening Doors for Europe’s Children” – a campaign active at EU level and in 12 European countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine). The campaign calls on the EU and national governments to prioritise the transition from institutional to family-based care – a process also known as Deinstitutionalisation (DI).
“The transition from institutional to family-based care has finally secured a place on the EU agenda. Now we have to make sure that national governments act to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of children across Europe”, Ms McGuinness declared.
The European Commission has recently recognised the need to invest in the transition from institutional to community-based care. In the Recommendation ‘Investing in children, breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, the Commission 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”.