FRA’s recent child poverty report painted a depressing picture. Child poverty appears to be common across all Member States with one in four children under 18 at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
Many live in households where it is hard to make ends meet. Parents who are unemployed or in poorly paid jobs often struggle to pay their heating or electricity bills. Putting enough or healthy food on their children’s plate can also be a challenge.
In addition, lack of access to quality education and healthcare can threaten the fundamental rights of children and deprive them of their chance to escape poverty and a better life.
Vulnerable children, such as those with disabilities, those from a minority background and migrant children are particularly at risk.
As Member States have all ratified the UN’s Child Rights Convention and the European Social Charter, they have an obligation to protect children from harm and exclusion whether it is poverty, neglect or violence.
This means offering integrated and professional child protection systems and services that cater to the diverse needs of all children.
While existing laws and policies at EU and national level serve to protect children, greater efforts are needed. Encouragingly, the recent European Pillar of Social Rights marks an important step in the right direction.
Member States should build on this momentum to help alleviate the child poverty that continues to prevent millions of children from having quality of life and the brighter future they deserve.
To make this a reality, they should establish a European Child Guarantee scheme to ensure each and every child has access to basic goods and services essential for their well-being – a healthy diet, decent housing, healthcare and education.
In addition, the EU should also ring-fence funding for children living at risk of poverty or social exclusion in its planning for the next budget covering 2021-2027.