Feasibility study for a child guarantee. Target group discussion paper on children living in precarious family situations

European Union Publications Office
Publication date:



Children in precarious family situations remain at risk of destitution throughout Europe and face barriers to accessing basic rights. Public policies and services in Member States are, slowly and at different speeds, adapting to these emerging situations of precariousness by expanding coverage of universal mainstream services as well as devising targeted interventions to reach out to the most deprived. In the context of the European FSCG, this study enquires into one of the four defined target groups (TGs), specifically children in precarious family situations. Based on 28 Country Reports, it reviews the access of children from this TG in five policy areas: nutrition, education, healthcare, housing, and ECEC. The definition of the TG is discussed as a combination of factors involving household composition, economic fragility, and social risk. Children with severe and multiple disadvantages risk not being detected under sectorfocused interventions, or else the latter might not be able to provide the much needed integrated responses. In effect, this leads to situations where children with severe and multiple disadvantages do not find the professional assistance they need. The TG is then pragmatically defined and broken down into four sub-groups which are present in different degrees in EU Member States. These are: economically deprived children, children in single-adult households, children left behind by EU-mobile parents, and Roma children. In general, the TG faces a number of barriers in both equal access, equal treatment, and equal outcomes. Economically deprived children have consistently worse indicators in terms of educational performance and health outcomes. Some children of single-parent households, specifically those that are poorer and with low work intensity, suffer a greater risk of exclusion and cannot access or afford services. So-called ‘left-behind’ children might be exposed to social strain and abandonment, which is not compensated for by the economic advantages of remittances. They are not yet on the radar of social policy responses. Roma children face multiple deprivation due to both social exclusion and discrimination. However, the severity of the situation varies widely across Member States. The policy responses in Member States are diverse. Mainstream services are readjusted to reach out to the most deprived; and specific targeted support schemes are set up, such as subsidised school meals, special desegregation strategies in schooling, integrated community-outreach health interventions, social housing and rent subsidy schemes, and enforced incentives to participate in early childhood care. Local context matters, but a common European debate on policy options emerges.

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