Thursday 18 June 2009


The Children’s Rights Alliance is supporting Eurochild, a 92-member network in 33 countries working in and across Europe to improve the quality of life of children and young people, in its lobbying of the European Council to develop an effective response to the needs of children and their families, during the economic crisis that is gripping the European Union.  

Across Europe, behind the daily reports of job losses is a much deeper and longer-lasting social crisis affecting millions of families and children. Children in the EU were already more vulnerable to poverty, with almost one in five children living in poverty before the crisis struck.  Now a growing number of families face a fall in their standard of living, with inevitable impacts on children’s well-being.

Against this backdrop, the Alliance joins other Eurochild members in their concern that crucial services aimed at supporting families and children are facing budget cuts.  This is particularly true in Ireland. The most vulnerable children, such as children at risk or in care, more than ever need more and better quality services that respect children’s rights. The current crisis jeopardises the little progress made in recent years.

Towards a lasting economic recovery
The unprecedented public debt resulting from government bail outs has its price. How will governments, particularly the Irish Government, deal with over-indebtedness in 10 to 15 years time, especially factoring in the health and pension costs associated with an ageing population?  

It is a burden that our children will inherit. We need to ensure every child has the chance to fulfil their full potential. We know that poverty experienced in childhood has long-term consequences on education, health and ultimately employment outcomes. We know as well that family stress can provoke mental health problems among children and increasing levels of domestic violence.

The protection and promotion of children’s rights may seem like a luxury, but it is a moral and economic imperative.

Call to EU Heads of State
Today’s European Council takes place at a turning point for the EU. A new European Parliament has just been elected and a new European Commission will be appointed by the end of the year.  Last week’s preparatory Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) highlighted the need to invest in green and social jobs as fundamental aspects for the recovery of the crisis.  The recent European Communication on employment also emphasises the need to upgrade skills and match labour market needs.

The Alliance joins Eurochild in calling on governments to invest in services that promote children’s well-being and provide much needed support to families. The development of high quality early years education and care services, for example, meets a growing demand from parents, contributes to job creation, and enables a more highly skilled and productive workforce in the longer term.  There is also a need to strengthen early intervention, prevention and child protection and care services and to continue to improve teaching and the school environment.

Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild, comments:
“Intervening early to protect children’s rights and promote their well-being saves money in the long-term.  It is always easier to address problems before they become too serious, but it requires bold investment in high quality, affordable and universally accessible services”.

Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says:
“We wholeheartedly support the work of Eurochild and believe that it makes good economic sense to invest in children.  The Irish Government should not make children pay for a crisis that they did not cause”.

To date, Europe’s economic recovery plans have largely ignored the impact of the crisis on children. There is little or no acknowledgement of the burden they will inherit, nor analysis of how governments will shoulder this responsibility to children and families. Now is not the time to save money on services that are needed more than ever, if we are to ensure that children are equipped to deal with the future challenges.

Appeal by Eurochild and the Children’s Rights Alliance
The seeds of a sustainable, equitable society need to be sown now! The post-Lisbon strategy is a golden opportunity to ensure that choices of today bring a better outcome for today’s children and tomorrow’s adults. Eurochild and its 92 member organisations from across Europe urge EU leaders to build a long term vision based on children’s rights.


Notes to editors:
-    Eurochild contact: Björn Becker, Information and Communication Officer, +32 (0)498 53 00 53
-    Alliance contact: Carys Thomas, Communications Director, +353 1 662 9400

Children's Rights Alliance