European Child Guarantee implemented as part of the National Child Strategy in Finland
The European Commission adopted an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child in spring 2021, recommending that Member States introduce a European Child Guarantee. The Child Guarantee seeks to support particularly vulnerable children and their families, and to help channel investment in child wellbeing. Finland is realising the Child Guarantee as part of work related to the National Child Strategy, which has aligned with policies of the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child from the very outset.
Most children and young adults in Finland enjoy a good standard of wellbeing. Social, cultural and material resources nevertheless remain unevenly distributed, with growing deprivation in the worst-case scenario. The European Child Guarantee seeks to address this problem by reinforcing equal opportunities for children and young adults. One particular aim of the national action plan is to ensure access to basic services for vulnerable children and young adults.
“The risks of social exclusion are often intergenerational, and particular attention should be paid to children and young adults facing multiple welfare challenges simultaneously. Combating the risk of poverty and social exclusion requires a comprehensive approach,” says Johanna Laisaari, Secretary General for the National Child Strategy, who serves as Child Guarantee coordinator and is also involved in European cooperation.
Reducing poverty in families with children is an important objective in all EU countries, as the consequences of poverty affect education, health and labour market status in adulthood. Poverty also limits the opportunities of children and young adults in leisure, hobbies and friendships.
Finnish income distribution statistics indicate that income-related problems tend to impact families with children in cases involving single parenthood, low educational attainment, unemployment and student status. Children from families with many children and families of foreign origin also more frequently experience problems of low income and associated financial difficulties.
National child guarantee measures implement European recommendations
Implementation and follow-up of the recommendations of the European Child Guarantee will show due respect for the diversity of Member State systems. Groups of children and young adults whose problems of wellbeing and access to rights were already identified in the national child strategy and its implementation plan will be crucial to realising the child guarantee in Finland. The Child Guarantee action plan has also highlighted measures in the Child Strategy that will boost the work of an ongoing central government development project and fill gaps in information gathering and monitoring with respect to these groups of children and young adults.
A cooperation network is planned to support and monitor national implementation of the Child Guarantee, and to promote cooperation in which NGOs will play an important role. Joint long-term networking will also be needed to develop and assess national indicators for the Child Guarantee action plan.
Johanna Laisaari, Secretary General for the National Child Strategy, [email protected]