Children, Families and Youth

Disadvantaged children, young people and families may come into contact with social services which provide income support, early childcare and specialised child protection, mental health, disability and housing support. They assess the needs and wishes of the child or young person and bring together different services as required.  


ESN started working on this theme in 2008, when we launched a working group on children and families, which gave its input on working with the most vulnerable families and children. In its report ‘Breaking the Cycle of Deprivation’, the group stressed the importance of continuous needs assessment, family and community-based care and joint work with education, health and justice. ESN's 2011 seminar 'Investing in children' looked at the role of general and specialist social services in lifting children out of poverty and exclusion from the early years. The 2012 seminar 'Vulnerable Youth in Transition' focused on two particularly vulnerable groups of young people – those leaving care and early school-leavers. Since 2013, ESN is contributing to the implementation of the European Commission's Recommendation 'Investing in children' with the project ‘Investing in Children Services, Improving Outcomes’, which aims to analyse national policy frameworks in selected countries focusing on the services pillar of the Recommendation.


ESN draws on its Members’ practice-based knowledge to influence EU policy making on children’s rights, child protection, early school leaving and child poverty. Child poverty emerged as a major issue in EU social policy coordination and led to the Recommendation 'Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage' in 2013, based on three pillars: access to adequate resources, access to services and opportunities, and children’s participation. The Europe 2020 Strategy saw the EU adopt an EU-wide Recommendation aimed to reduce early school leaving below 10% by 2020. The Lisbon Treaty introduced an objective to promote children's rights and the EU has adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, meaning all policies and actions with an impact on children must be in line with the best interests of the child.

ESN Practice Library


ESN’s practice library contains numerous examples from our seminars and conferences regarding children and family issues, including a separate practice section on young people.

Practice library

Key ESN resources

External resources

For more information on our work on Children, Families and Youth, please contact ESN Policy Director Alfonso Lara Montero