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Strengthening Child Protection Systems Across the EU: a new Recommendation to Safeguard Children's Rights

The European Commission has taken a significant step forward in advancing children rights.

The European Commission has taken a significant step forward in advancing children rights with the adoption of the Recommendation on developing and strengthening integrated child protection systems. The Recommendation, adopted on 24 April, is accompanied by a Staff Working Document and falls under the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. 

The Recommendation aims to empower Member States in enhancing their child protection frameworks. It prioritises children's participation in decision-making and supports Member States in adapting systems to combat all forms of violence against children using EU tools like legislation. It calls for a general framework involving national plans to end violence, better coordination, and improved resources and data collection while enhancing sectoral coordination and local-level professional training . Another key area concerns offline and online safety through digital literacy and family training, as well as prioritising children's mental health and combating bullying. 

Notably, one of its chapters focuses on deinstitutionalisation and the transition towards quality family and community-based care. It addresses the fact that nearly 40% of children in alternative care in the EU are still in residential care, living in large institutions. In this section, Member States are urged to prioritise family-based and community-based care for children, looking to achieve their best interests. Furthermore, the recommendation calls Member States to invest in non-residential family and community services, including accessible housing, to support children with disabilities and their families early on, preventing the unnecessary institutionalisation of children with disabilities and promoting their full inclusion in community life. Another important point is about the promotion and implementation of national strategies to accelerate the transition from institutional care to quality family and community-based care for children without parental care or with disabilities. Finally, the section addresses the transition to independent living and full community inclusion, proposing comprehensive support and preparation programmes. 

This Recommendation marks a pivotal moment in strengthening child protection systems, ensuring a cohesive and robust approach to promoting the well-being and safety of all children across the European Union. This initiative involved an extensive consultation, including input from over 1,000 children through the EU Children's Participation Platform and comprehensive mapping by the Fundamental Rights Agency on child protection systems across Member States.