The Campaign

Hundreds of thousands of children across Europe are growing up in institutional care. The consequences are devastating: for children, families and society.

An overwhelming majority of children in institutions have at least one living parent. Poverty, disability and discrimination are often the underlying cause of children being separated from their parents . Strengthening families and communities – so that they can look after their own children – must be the first priority. When separation is necessary for a child’s protection, they must receive individualised care which institutions cannot provide. Children need stable and secure relations with caring adults to thrive.  That is why we advocate for a which provide the day-to-day essentials individual attention and love from a caring adult, a protective environment and participation in normal activities within the community.

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 achieve this by promoting the transition from institutional to the family- and community-based care, also known as deinstitutionalisation (DI).


The Opening Doors for Europe’s Children campaign builds partnerships at international and national level to advocate for change in national policies and public spending. It builds the capacity of national organisations to leverage existing EU policy recommendations and coordination tools, as well as EU funding programmes to support progress at put pressure on national level.

In the context of the current refugee and migrant crisis, we also call for alternatives to detention and institutional care for migrant, unaccompanied and separated children.

A stronger partnership:

Phase II of the Opening Doors campaign brings on board new national and international partners to add further gravitas to our work on deinstitutionalisation. SOS Children’s Villages International, the International Foster Care Organisation (IFCO), and European branch of the International Federation of Educative Communities (FICE Europe) have joined Eurochild and Hope and Homes for Children. The campaign is also expanding geographically, bringing the number of countries to 15. The campaign will operate Western European countries (Spain, Belgium and Austria), to break the myth that the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care only concerns Central and Eastern Europe.