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In 2013 ESN started this project to contribute to the implementation of the European Recommendation ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ at national and local levels. It consists of an analysis of the organisation of children's services across 14 European countries, and a set of peer reviews in these countries aimed at presenting specific policy proposals for public authorities regards to how children's services should be developed in line with the Recommendation.

The project Investing in Children's Services, Improving Outcomes focuses on the five types of services addressed in the European Recommendation: reducing inequality at a young age by investing in early childhood education and care; improving the impact of education systems on equal opportunities; improving health systems to address the needs of disadvantaged children; providing children with a safe, adequate housing and living environment; enhancing family support and the quality of alternative care settings.

Looking back: 3 years, 14 countries, 140 participants

ESN 3-year project ‘Investing in Children’s services, improving outcomes’ came to an end with the publication of a study, which is the outcome of 3 years of work with child welfare agencies, children's services directors and providers across 14 European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Together, we have worked on assessing how the principles of the European Commission's Recommendation ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ (are implemented in practice, specifically those on quality services. We held three peer reviews over three years with more than 140 participants.

Peer Review

ESN’s first peer review, 15 May 2013, Dublin

The first peer review  focussing on Ireland, France, Sweden and Bulgaria, examining the Recommendations in the light of national legal and policy frameworks. Participants identified country-specific gaps and elaborated policy proposals addressed to public authorities to inform and support them to implement EU guidance.

Second peer review, 5 June 2014, Barcelona

The second peer review looked at children's services in Catalonia in Spain, Scotland in the UK, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. With the participation of Julius Op de Beke (European Commission) and Willem Adema (OECD), ESN’s second peer review looked specifically at child poverty and the access to early childhood and education and care (ECEC) services, thus working on making the case for investing in children’s services, with a focus on Spain, Scotland in the UK, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands (see our article on national perspectives).

Third peer review, 7-8 May 2015, Budapest

A third peer review looked at the National delegations from Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Romania, discussing key issues in child protection around the development of foster care and the evidence-base for investing in effective children’s policies and services.

Investing in Children's Services, Improving Outcomes: Report Launch

The European Social Network's study launch at the European Parliament (EP), was hosted by Nathalie Griesbeck MEP (Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Child Rights) and supported by the ALDE group. It tied together all of our work between 2011-2016, and provided participants and stakeholders with an opportunity to discuss the key findings and next steps. Preceding the launch at the EP, a review meeting with ESN members took place on 30 May 2016.

ESN study

ESN study (now available to download) consists of 14 country profiles, a cross-country analysis identifying strengths and gaps, as well as recommendations for public authorities as to how services should be developed in line with the Recommendation.

You can now download the infographic of the report with key information. Share it on your social media!


For further information, please contact Alfonso Lara Montero, ESN Policy Director.