Covid, climate, energy, war, cost of living: we are living in an era of volatility. The first to feel the effects of these multiple crises are children.

Child poverty in the EU is reaching worrying levels. Low wages and social security combined with a cost of living crisis mean the EU’s poorest families are getting poorer. In 2022, one in four children was at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This winter, up to 20 million children will go without their basic needs: nutritious meals, warm clothes, secure housing.

There are many reasons a child may live in poverty, but often poverty is a vicious cycle, affecting generations of families. To address this, decent jobs, affordable childcare and well funded and accessible public services must be part of the solution.

This was the approach outlined in the report drafted by Left MEP, Sandra Pereira (PCP, Portugal) adopted today in the European Parliament. The report calls on the EU and its member states to ensure better-integrated services to protect children and their families at risk of poverty, particularly in times of crisis, through:

  • Providing universal high-quality public services to all and better working conditions for families or carers;
  • Ensuring effective and free access to key services such as education (including crèche and pre-school), school activities, healthcare and transportation;
  • Accessible and fair labour conditions for workers, including better breastfeeding provisions;
  • Implementing national strategies for children and their families to have access to healthy and affordable food;

The report also calls for children, families and carers to be involved in policy-making and for child protection and family welfare services to receive adequate public investment.

Welcoming the adoption of her report, Pereira said: “A quarter of all children in the EU live at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Families are struggling with low wages, precariousness and the rising cost of living. It is key to invest in universal, public and quality services, as well as to ensure job security, fair incomes and parental rights. To enable children to grow up playing in a more just and equal society: that is what we are calling for.”

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