Eurochild shines the light on aftercare for care leavers across Europe
On 13 October 2020, as part of the CarePath project, Eurochild convened an international online conference, Aftercare for Care Leavers- Learning lessons across Europe to raise aftercare for children and young people ageing out of alternative care on the European agenda.
The conference welcomed 300+ participants from Europe and beyond to listen and engage with our 20+ speakers, whose inspiring interventions offered perspectives across policy, research, practice and, most importantly, lived-experiences of leaving care. We welcomed experts both at national level and those working in the heart of the European Union to improve the lives of children young people in care.
Our keynote speaker, Professor Mike Stein, surmised well the key message for decision makers at the conference: “The EU has a critical role in ‘levelling up’ standards of aftercare across Europe by offering opportunities for exchange and learning, and channelling EU resources towards policy reform and service development through its funding programmes.”
Key and long-standing allies from across the European Union spoke and supported the key messages from the conference:
• From the European Parliament, MEP Dragoș Pîslaru remarked that “Children in vulnerable position becomes youth in vulnerable position. We need to break the vicious circle and turning it into a virtuous cycle…For a better future in Europe we need to invest in children today.”
• Valeria Setti, the European Commission’s Coordinator for the Rights of the Child informed attendees that the upcoming Child Guarantee initiative and the new Strategy on the Rights of the Child will look at the situation of children in care and leaving care.
• Our long-standing ally in our work to end institutional care of children, Katarina Ivanković-Knežević from DG EMPL, thanked Eurochild for its continued strong advocacy for children in alternative care. Ms Ivanković-Knežević also confirmed that there will be a Council Recommendation on the Child Guarantee in 2021, which will trigger policy action in EU Member States and guarantee that children in need have access to quality services.
• Astrid Podsiadlowski from the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), called for the active participation of children in individual care decision not only when entering but also when leaving care. The EU can play a critical role here by sharing best practices and legislation that should be ‘levelled up’ to provide children leaving care with a strong base for independent living.
Alongside our key allies and partners, five Eurochild members and a foundation partner also provided valuable insights:
• Terry Dignan from Ireland’s Empowering People in Care
• Richard Pichler from SOS Children’s Villages International
• Andreeas Novacovici and Napoleon Valentin Alexandru of the Institutionalised Youth Council in Romania
• Ioanna Georgouli and Panagiotis Sofios from Ergo Academy in Greece
• Ian Thomas from our foundation partner the Martin James Foundation
Their interventions ranged from local, national and international perspectives, as well as powerful testimonies of lived experiences of growing up in and leaving care. We are hugely grateful to all of our members and our other speakers for their empowering stories!
Did you miss the conference? You can visit our Facebook page to view both the morning session and the afternoon session. You can find the Conference Presentations here. Our speakers have also provided answers to participants’ questions. View these answers here.
Finally, we welcome you to explore further the project’s tools and resources that will be available on the CarePath website in the coming weeks. This includes the CarePath Memorandum of Understanding – a valuable resource to demonstrate support for mainstreaming trauma-informed aftercare for care leavers across Europe.
For any additional information, please contact Ciaran O’Donnell, Policy and Project Assistant from the Eurochild Secretariat at Ciaran.firstname.lastname@example.org.