The European Commission is working on a new EU Child Rights Strategy. Eurochild and Unicef prepared a joint paper outlining key issues and priorities the strategy should cover.
Inclusion Europe endorses the paper.
Children with disabilities
Regarding children with disabilities, the paper says:
The strategy needs to ensure “inclusive approach to protecting children in
accordance with EU fundamental rights”.
The Child Rights Strategy should call on the European Commission, the Council, and the Member States to prioritise the following actions:
- Mainstream children’s rights in the 2020 -2030 European Disability Strategy ensuring the equal access of children to social inclusion and integration.
- Member States should strengthen their education systems to ensure that children with disabilities have access to inclusive and quality education as their peers. Children with disabilities should be also supported when transitioning to adulthood to have the same opportunities for independent living as their peers.
- Member States should support families, so that they are not separated due to the child’s or parent’s disability. Member States should invest in children’s and their families’ empowerment and right to independent living by securing personal assistance budgets and their access to mainstream and targeted services in the community.
- Children with disabilities should never be placed in institutions. When separation is in the best interest of the child, family-based care should be prioritised.
Children in/at risk of entering alternative care
- Implement the UN Resolution A/RES/74/133 by recognising the harm
caused by institutional care to children’s growth and development, including the increased risk of abuse and trafficking, and by committing to support families at risk of separation; develop quality alternative care and promote the transition from institutional to family and community-based care in EU internal and external action.
- Release a European Commission Communication on quality alternative care for children, including prevention of family separation, transition from institutional to family and community-based care, and support for adolescents stepping out of the care system after they turn 18 years old, in line with the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children.
- Call on Member States to develop comprehensive national deinstitutionalisation strategies, in line with the enabling condition 4.3 of the Common Provisions Regulation. These strategies should focus on preventing unnecessary family separation and developing quality family-based and community-based care and services, in line with the UNCRC, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children.
- In order to better assess and respond to the issues, call on EU and Member States to improve data collection on children without or at risk of losing parental care, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the principle of leaving no one behind, while ensuring data is collected, stored and used in line with the GDPR and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
- The European Commission and EU Member States should direct EU Funding streams as part of the EU’s Recovery Plan and the 2021-2027 EU budget (ESF+, EU4Health, ERDF REC programmes, Erasmus) to support actions to protect children and promote health, social and child protection systems strengthening in the EU.
- Ensure that EU funding is not used for activities that may lead to social
exclusion or segregation or child harm. This includes explicitly excluding
investment of EU funds in the refurbishing, building, renovating, or extending of institutions. The European Commission should promote training with the EU institutions and national authorities related to the allocation of EU funding and how to avoid its misuse.
- Consult civil society as well as children -when and where appropriate –
meaningfully on the allocation and spending of EU funding in EU Member
States as well as the monitoring and evaluation of relevant projects.
Issues affecting children with intellectual disabilities
Regarding specifically children with intellectual disabilities and their families, Inclusion Europe advocates for the EU Child Rights Strategy to cover:
- Early intervention, which should start right after birth. The support should be: individualized, structured, provided on a long-term basis (not just for a few months) – given at home, not in a medical or care centre.
- Education: proper, and for all. Including students with complex support needs (.pdf).
- No segregation. Deinstitutionalisation of child care is the right and only way forward. It is essential that these efforts include children with disabilities.