Executive Summary

AuthorGiannetto, Andrea; Pagnini, Costanza
ESF support to investing in children Final Report
Executive Summary
The objective of this thematic report is to assess the European Social Fund (ESF) and
Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) support to investing in children. It is based on a
screening of ESF and YEI Operational Programmes (OPs) and Annual Implementation
Reports (AIRs) as well as the responses to an e-survey for ESF Managing Authorities.
Interviews with five Managing Auth orities selected for in-depth analysis were al so carried
out: OP Sachsen-Anhalt (DE), OP Hamburg (DE), OP Toscana (IT), OP Employment (CZ)
and OP Research, Development and Education (CZ).
Children are more at risk of p overty or social exclusion than the overall population in a
large majority of EU countries. Children i n the EU also experience different levels of early
school leaving and access to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) . This is not only
a problem in itself but it also pos es a major challenge for the attainment of the European
Union’s growth and development goals.
Support to children in the EU is increasingly taking centre stage. In 2013, the European
Commission Recommendation Investing i n children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage
set out key recommendati ons for Member States regardin g supporting well-being and
positive outcomes for children and fami lies. In 2015 the European Parliament called for a
“Child Guarantee for Vulnerable Children”, in line with the objective of providing adequate
living stand ards through a combination of benefits. The European Pillar of Social Rights
introduced in 2017 identifies childcare and support to children as one of its 20 key
principles against which Member States should benchmark their social polici es. Finally, in
May 2019 the Council adopted a Recommendation on High-Quality Early Childhood
Education and Care (ECEC) Systems. The Recommendation shifts the focus from the
coverage to the quality of childhood services.
ESF and YEI operations play a n important role in supporting children and their wellbeing
across the EU. They do so in parallel with several other EU-level instruments, such as the
Fund for the Most Deprived (FEAD) that supports children and their families through basic
material and social inclusion assistance, the ERDF supporting the i nfrastructural
development of early childcare structures and schools, DG Justice R EC (Rights, equality
and ci tizenship) and Justice programmes targeting child ren’s rights and protection, and
DG HOME’s initiatives supporting migrant children.
ESF and YEI support to children
In general, the focus of this report is on information which could be linked clearly, though
at times indirectly, to children. Figures should be treated with caution due to the
impossibility to reliably account f or some of the indirect benefits on children and related
risks of underestimation.
Through an analysis of the actions planned across the different OPs across Europe,
potentially relevant actions for support to children have been identified in 25 Member
States and 123 ESF, representing over two thirds of the ESF OPs. These figures might fail
to fully capture general measures aimed at young people ( which might include children
and youth below 18 years) that w ould further increase the volume and extent of ESF/YEI

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