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The transition from large residential institutions to community or family settings still remains a challenge in much of Europe, to varying degrees depending on the sector and the country.


ESN began its work in this area with a seminar entitled 'Towards Community Care’ in Warsaw in 2009 exploring the challenges of managing the transition process in Europe. Building on the theme of the seminar, ESN launched the 'Developing Community Care' working group, which held four meetings and visited projects in the field. In 2009, a High-Level Advisory Committee was formed to advise ESN on its work in this area. The report 'Developing Community Care', published in 2011, drew on all of these activities and made the case for developing community care.
In 2011 and 2012, ESN ran a training programme entitled ‘Managing Change’ for sixteen policy makers and social managers from Central and Eastern Europe. ESN has also been a member of the European Expert Group (EEG) on the transition from institutionally to community-based care since 2011, which undertakes awareness-raising and training activities at EU and national level. ESN co-chaired the EEG alongside the European Disability Forum and UNICEF from June 2013 to June 2015.


In 2009 an EU-level report by the Ad Hoc Expert Group reaffirmed the view that Europe needs to make progress in the transition from institutional to community-based care. The UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Rights of the Child are legal documents that promote community and family settings. The above-mentioned EEG published ‘Common European Guidelines’ on the transition from institutional to community care and a 'Toolkit on the use of Structural Funds' to promote the transition to community-based settings in 2012.

For the 2014-2020 programming period of the European Structural and Investment Funds (mainly the European Social Fund and the European Rural Development Fund), efforts are being made to ensure that no EU public money is invested in (re)building institutions.


Key ESN Resources

External resources

For more information on our work on Developing Community Care, please get in touch with the Policy Team.