On Tuesday, the Employment and Social Affairs committee adopted a draft report to reduce inequalities and promote social inclusion in times of crisis for children and their families.
The own-initiative report, adopted with 33 votes in favour, 5 against, and 3 abstentions, calls for better integrated services to protect children and their families in the EU at risk of poverty, in particular in times of crisis.
To prevent and combat child poverty and social exclusion, MEPs call for a life-cycle approach to help break the vicious circle of poverty, including integrated social, educational and employment services.
MEPs call on member states to ensure effective and free access to key services such as education and school activities, healthcare as well as one healthy meal each school day and effective access to healthy nutrition and adequate housing. This multidimensional approach also concerns adequate benefits and leave policies, as well as an accessible and fair labour market, according to MEPs.
To ensure that children and their families have access to healthy and affordable food, MEPs call on member states to properly design, fund and implement national strategies to ensure accessible and healthy food. They also call on the member states to ensure that children have access to inclusive and high-quality education and highlight the importance of investments in public and free education to reach especially those belonging to more vulnerable social groups.
MEPs call for mechanisms to ensure meaningful, safe and inclusive participation of children, families and carers, and stress the importance of developing an integrated strategy to tackle inequalities in childhood with the provision of child protection and family welfare services, which need structural investments and effective public expenditure. They therefore call on the Commission and member states to significantly increase public investment in policies that have an impact on children’s lives.
Rapporteur Sandra Pereira (The Left, PT), said: "Around 25% of children in the EU live at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Families are struggling with low wages, precariousness and the rising cost of living. It is key to invest in universal, public and quality services, as well as to ensure job security, fair incomes and parental rights. To enable children to grow up playing in a more just and equal society: that is what we are calling for."
The Parliament will vote on the draft report in the November II plenary session.