Children's Rights Matter: Why Europe needs to invest in children

Prestigious Patron and Speaker

Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians

Confirmed speakers from Belgian and European governments

Marianne Thyssen
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, European Commission
Elke Sleurs
State Secretary for Combating Poverty, for Equal Opportunities, for Disabled People and for Science Policy, Belgium
Gianluca Esposito
Head of Equality and Human Dignity Department, Council of Europe

Europe enormous progress has been made in recognising children’s rights since adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but significant challenges remain.

One in four children is growing up in poverty and exclusion; there are unprecedented numbers of migrant and refugee children entering Europe – many of them unaccompanied; and still over half a million children are placed in institutional care, in contradiction to all human rights standards.

The Eurochild conference Children’s Rights Matter: Why Europe needs to invest in children, aims to take stock of progress, address on-going challenges, share good practice, and bring together different perspectives.

To answer this question, conference participants, both young and old, will learn and reflect on how policies and services promote the rights of all children in the five sub-themes: education, early years, health promotion, family strengthening, social protection and welfare support. For each of these themes we will focus on three target groups of children: children in poverty, children on the move or affected by migration, and children in care or in risk of going into care.

What’s unique about this conference? 

Children, ages 12+, are involved both in the design, organisation and implementation of the conference. Children and adults will jointly work together during this conference as chairs, speakers, facilitators and rapporteurs. 

Why should you attend?

3 days of interactive learning opportunities and discussions with politicians, policy makers, practitioners and children and young people

3 target groups in focus: Children in poverty; Children on the move or affected by migration; Children in care or in risk of going into care

5 sub-themes: Education; Early years policies; Health promotion; Family strengthening; Social protection and welfare support

14+ services for children and families open their doors to participants

13+ workshops to discover promising practices around education, health, families and social protection

Be part of a unique experience of reflecting on children’s rights, with children.

Registrations are now closed.

Join us at Palace of Academies, Brussels on 5-7 July 2016

Conference Programme

Day 1

12:00-18:00     Registration

15:00-18:00     Conference Opening – co-chaired by children & adults

o Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium (Patron of Eurochild Conference 2016)

o Norah Gibbons, President, Eurochild 

o Katrien Verhegge, General Administrator, Kind en Gezin

o Benoit Parmentier, General Administrator, Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance

o Cath Larkins, Co-Director of the Centre for Children’s and Young People’s Participation, University of Central Lancashire

- From personal to political

Children & adults share personal experiences of poverty & social exclusion, life as a refugee and living in alternative care. 

o Valeriu Nicolae, children’s rights and Roma activist, Romania & a young person from Romania

o Abbee McLatchie, Education, Participation and  Achievement Manager, By the Bridge Therapeutic Fostering & Vika Tchibor, young person from the UK

o Stefan Bauer, Bundesverband Therapeutische Gemeinschaften - Head of a residential care for

unaccompanied minors with mental health problems”, FICE Austria - Project Manager and board

member”, ISS Austria –Director, Austria

o Viola Gjoka, Programmes Coordinator, Network for Children’s Rights, Greece

Co-facilitated by Ross Ashcroft, independent filmmaker, broadcaster and Managing Director of Motherlode Studio & Yasmine Naciri, Young Ambassador (17), Youth Concil of Brussels, Belgium

19:00-22:00    Welcome reception and dinner at Palace of Academies

Day 2

08:00-13:00     Study Visits

Participants will discover and learn about one of 14 services offered to children and families in and around Brussels, while some of them will have the opportunity to visit EU Institutions.

- Ateliers du Soleil ASBL: lifelong learning centre, collective and individual homework support centre for creativity and expression

- Parliament of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation

- CEMôme: organising extracurricular activities for children in the Saint-Gilles commune

- TCC Accueil AMO: aid service for youth in Anderlecht

- Youplaboum ASBL: Center of Expression and Creativity for children from 18 months to 12 years of age

- SOS Jeunes - Quartier Libre AMO: an open social service for youth 18 years or younger

- Folon Foundation & La Porte Ouverte: a foundation developing its activities for so called “vulnerable” public & the foster families association of Wallonia Brussels

- Aquarelle vzw: non-profit organisation offering services to undocumented pregnant women

-       EU Institutions: visit to the European Commission and the European Parliament

- Elmer: a community-based preschool for children between 0 and 3,5 years old

- Huis der Gezinnen: a small scale organization specialized in parenting support, child development and social integration

- Klein Kasteeltje: one of the reception centres for asylum seekers in Belgium

- Vrienden van 't Huizeken vzw : an association of people in poverty for people in poverty

- Huis van het Kind Genk: preventive services for children and their family

- CKG De Stap Genk: organisation offering voluntary assistance, customised to families with young children, from 0 to 12 year

13:00-14:30     Lunch break

14:30-18:00     Workshops

Promising practices will be presented in the varied fields of Education; Early years policies; Health promotion; Family strengthening; Social protection and welfare support, with a focus on one of the three target groups: Children in poverty; Children on the move or affected by migration; Children in care or in risk of going into care.

Resilience and Social Capital: The Voices of Care Leavers from one London Borough’ - Lucille   Allain & Dr. Helen Hingley-Jones, Assistant Professors, Social Work, Middlesex University, UK

Foster CareA Place of Sanctuary for Children, Gabrielle Jerome, Head of International Social Work at Core Assets Richard Jadesten, Social Worker, Familjehem i Fokus

The right to education for children who are being evicted, Bruno Vanobbergen, Flemish Children’s Rights Commissioner, Belgium

Youth clubs: Empowering disadvantaged young people, Igor Nosach, Project Manager & Kateryna Snisarenko, Project Assistant, Partnership for Every Child, Ukraine

The Voice of Children in Foster Care, Heidi Marchal & Ward Campo, Coaches, Pleegzorg Vlaanderen, Belgium

Children first: local consultation platforms for prevention and identification of child povertyJulien Van Geertsom, President, Federal Public Planning Service for Social Integration, Hilde Genetello, Psychological Department of the Public Social Welfare Center of Ghent; Simon Hupkens, Public Social Welfare Center of Liège,Belgium

School based food aid programsAn investment in children’s future, Afroditi Veloudaki, Director of Programs & Dina Zota, Head of National Projects, Institute of Preventive Medicine Environmnetal and Occupational Health, Greece

How will we leave the world for children - The time capsule, Irena Petković & Karlo Škorić, Members of Children's Forum, Society “Our children“ Opatija, Croatia

Promoting Health in children’s intimate relationships online and offline: An app available in   5 languages, Cath Larkins, Co-Director, Centre for Children’s and Young People’s Participation, University of Central Lancashire; Christine Barter, Reader, Connect Centre, University of Central Lancashire; Charity Anderton & Emily Holt & Bradley Baker, Ucan Young Researchers, Lancashire County Council, UK

Participation in child protection: Essential for sustainable safety for children and families with disabilities, Veronica Smits, Assistant Professor Family and Youth Law, Tilburg University; Maartje Snelders, Child Psychologist, William Schrikker Group, the Netherlands

Realizing children’s rights in alternative care, Krešimir Makvić & Radostina Paneva & Ronan Mangan, SOS Children’s Villages International , Léo M. & Artūrs Pokšāns, young persons/ presenters

Child Protection benefitting from new technologies, Judit Nemeth-Almasi & Evgenia Generalova & Arina Cretu, Terre des hommes

Family Centres in Flanders: partnerships towards better services for children and their families, Leentje De Schuymer, staff member, Kind en Gezin, Nele Travers, coordinator EXPOO, expert center on parenting and family support

•      Children’s participation in daily life: How protection can liberate participationJonathan Levy,   Initiatives et Changement France; Pascale Camus, ONE and University of Liège and Paris 13; Kassandra Beltran, Cyprus Children's Parliament

19:00-22:00     Conference dinner 

Day 3

09:00 – 11:00 Human Library 

A unique experience of “reading” stories based on experiences of children and adults. The “books” will feature stories from inspiring EU decision-makers, civil society leaders and active young people. Adapted from ‘Children as Actors for Transforming Society’.

o “What is a big European institution doing to protect children in migration?” Margaret TuiteCoordinator for the rights of the child, European Commission

o “The Youth Taskforce on Violence Against Children: what it is and why it works”, Fahima Elmi, Member of the Youth TaskForce (on violence against children) established by Augeo foundation, The Netherlands

o “Is it possible to be successful despite childhood tragedy and disadvantage?”, Sir Al Aynsley GreenPresident of the British Medical Association, UK and Former Children’s Commissioner for England

o “From Afghanistan to Sweden – Children in foster care”, Donya Azimi, Young Advocate, Member of Children’s Advisory Group, Sweden

o “Who will take care of the difficult children?”, Bruno Vanobbergen, Flemish Children’s Rights Commissioner, Belgium

o “Fighting against educational inequalities: A top educational priority”, Bernard de Vos, Wallonian Children’s Ombudsperson, Belgium

o “The transition of institutional to community based care”, Susanne Bosman, Regional Representation for Europe of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN

o “Children’s Rights are basic for human rights, to be respected everywhere and always” Luc Van den Brande, Former President, Vice-President of the EU Committee of the Regions, Belgium

o “Milan-Brussels, Thumbelina running against child poverty” Ivana Di Martino, Marathon Runner and advocate against child poverty, Italy

o “My Normal Gay Family”, Darragh Tibbs, Young delegate, Northern Ireland

o “Alternative ways of living”, Sean Downey, Youtuber, Member of Children’s Advisory Group, Ireland

o “Exploratory Analysis of child-budgeting”, Pierre-Yves Rosset, Observatory on Childhood, Youth and Youth Assistance (OEJAJ) – Ministry of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels, Belgium

o “Give a voice to children: Campaigning for the climate, that is respecting my rights!”, Florine Pruchon, Solidarite Laique, France

o “From a refugee baby to a child’s rights activist?” Zgjim Gashi, Young delegate, representing the Council of Europe, Kosovo

o “Facing the Future – presenting outcomes of Council of Europe Strategy on Children’s Rights”, Nermina Delic, Young delegate, representing the Council of Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina

o “How is the European Commission supporting investment in children?”, Emmanuaelle Grange, Head of Unit Disability and Inclusion at the European Commission, DG Employment, Directorate Social Affairs 

11:30-11:45 Children’s Conference Declaration 

Children’s Advisory Group and adults to present the conference declaration 

11:45-12:45 Conference Closing: Reflections on how to invest in children with European leaders

Under the auspices of the Slovak Presidency in the Council of the European Union

o Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility,         European Commission

o Elke Sleurs, State Secretary for Combating Poverty, for Equal Opportunities, for Disabled People, for Science Policy, Belgium

o      Ioannis N. Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Equality and Citizens' Rights Department, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

o Gianluca Esposito, Head of Equality and Human Dignity Department, Council of Europe

o Andrea Cisárová, Director of Center for International Legal Protection of Children and Youth, Slovak Republic 

o      Verena Knaus, UNICEF EU Office Representative

o Co-moderated by Ross Ashcroft, independent filmmaker, broadcaster and Managing Director of Motherlode Studio & Emily Holt, Ucan Young Researcher, Lancashire County Council

12:45-13:00 Closing words: Norah Gibbons, Eurochild President

The Sketch my Rights entries

We have received  "Sketch my Rights" entries by children from 13 different countries.

Twitter Feed #EurochildConf


Sponsor a child!


Andrea Witt

Executive Assistant / Conference Coordinator

The Eurochild Conference is organised by Eurochild, together with the Belgian co-hosts Kind and Gezin and ONE.

Eurochild is a network of organisations and individuals that promote the rights and well-being of children and young people in Europe. Their work is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children’s Rights and well-being, as well as child & youth participation are amongst their key priorities.

Kind and Gezin Kind en Gezin (Child and Family) is an agency that works actively in 'Public Health, Welfare and Family’ policy area. This Flemish agency focuses on preventive treatment and guidance of young children geared to good outcomes in the future. We work hard to enable children to achieve their full developmental potential, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, with respect for diversity and children’s rights. This principle holds good for all the different areas that we work in.

ONE The Office of Birth and Childhood (Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance, further referred to as ONE) is a public institution that develops birth and childhood policies. ONE is an independent organism under the Minister for Childhood of the Wallonia & Brussels Federation. The Chairman of the Board of Directors is Mrs. Claudia Camus, and the General Director of the Executive Board is Mr. Benoît Parmentier.

The conference will take place at the prestigious Les Palais des Académies/Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts in Brussels

The closing session of the conference is held under the auspices of the Slovak Presidency in the Council of the European Union
An advisory group of children and young people is helping to set the agenda, frame the conversations, and design an inclusive conference.

The conference approach builds on the work we have been developing within Eurochild with the support of our Participation Reference Group and the experience of Children as Actors in Transforming Society, a global annual meeting of children and adults in Switzerland. The organisers are also supported by an advisory group of some of the key stakeholders and partners in Belgium and at EU level.

At the Eurochild conference you have the opportunity to display your services and products to participants, including children’s rights experts, EU decision makers, civil society organisation representatives and young activists. 

Stands will be located at the entrance close to the registration desk, as well as in the area where lunch, coffee breaks and welcome reception will be held. 

Click here to know more! 


-Registrations are now closed. 

-You can find logistics and other practical information in the document below:


-Press and Broadcast Media that would like to attend the conference can contact Prerna Humpal

A child-centred investment strategy: Why the Investment Plan for Europe needs to prioritise children, Eurochild working paper, 2015

European Commission Recommendation Investing in Children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage, February 2013. Click here to read it in other EU languages.

- Read the Child-Friendly Recommendation on Investing in Children

Eurochild organises a conference every two years in partnership with its one or more national member organisations. Read here the report from our last conference ‘Children First: Better Public Spending for Better Outcomes for Children & Families’ held in Bucharest, Romania in 2014. 

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