Feasibility study for a child guarantee. Target group discussion paper on children in alternative care

European Union Publications Office
Publication date:



This report takes a broad definition of the Target Group ‘children residing in institutions’ and will capture the situation of children in alternative care in European Union (EU) countries. By using the term ‘children in alternative care’, the aim of this report is to show that an effective decrease in the number of children in institutional care can only be sustained through measures including the development of family support services, the strengthening of other alternative care options such as foster care or kinship care, and the adoption of high-quality alternative care standards. Despite a strong international and European framework protecting and promoting the rights of children in alternative care (which includes the TG) and an EU focus on deinstitutionalisation at policy and funding levels, too many children still live in alternative care institutions or in inadequate and sub-standard forms of alternative care. Some of the barriers identified include: lack of a holistic strategy; lack of political will; support of public opinion for residential care; poor management; and under-financing. According to the available data gathered for the purposes of the FSCG, around 340,000 children are estimated to live in residential care across the EU. Large portions of those residential care facilities have an institutional culture and are incompatible with international human rights standards. This figure for the number of children in residential care in the EU should be used with extreme caution as it is only a rough estimate based on incomplete data. Statistics related to the TG are incomplete and unreliable. The lack of reliable and disaggregated data makes it more difficult for Member States of the EU (MS) to develop adequate and efficient policies to protect and care for the TG. It is also essential to get more qualitative data about the situation of children in alternative care, as the mere numbers do not give any indication about the quality of care and protection the children receive. This report is only a snapshot of the current situation, considering the lack of complete data. One challenge for this EU-wide analysis is the different terms used for different types of care. There is no international or EU-wide agreed use of terms related to alternative care. In some cases, the terms are often not even harmonised at national level. To facilitate an understanding of this report, some key terms used in the literature on the TG have been defined at the end.

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