Principle 11: Childcare and support to children

The European Pillar of Social Rights

Flashcard tool

Principle 11

Childcare and support to children

“Children have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality. Children have the right to protection from poverty. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities.

Principle 11 of the European Pillar of Social Rights

two boys listening game cans and string_DARKBLUE
Girl with doctor_353719262_lightgreen

Childcare and support to children as determinants of health

The time between birth and compulsory primary school age is the most formative period of children’s lives, impacting lifelong learning, social integration, health and wellbeing, development, and potential employability.

What does the EPSR Action Plan say?

The EPSR Action Plan sets out three key goals for EU Member States:

  • Education and care must be accessible and affordable to all young children in line with the Council Recommendation on High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Systems (2019).

  • The number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be reduced by at least 15 million by 2030, where at least 5 million should be children.

  • The provision of formal early childhood education and care should be increased to ensure that at least 78% of the population aged 20 to 64 is in employment by 2030.

Boy and girl with kite, wheelchair_463813179_lightblue

Where are we now?

The Social Scoreboard measures progress on the principles of the EPSR. Linked to the principle of childcare and support to children, the Scoreboard outlines that in the EU:

  • There is a 24.2% at-risk-of-poverty rate or exclusion for children (0-17).

  • Only 32.3% of children aged less than 3 years are in formal childcare - Latest figures (2020).

Girl reading_516389408_WHITE

What are public health actors doing?

The following actions taken by public health actors at (sub)national level can support the implementation of EPSR principle 11.

Click on a country to learn about initiatives taking place.

P11_Girl on swing_Green

What are health actors doing?

Bulgaria - Improving maternal and child health and early childhood development in vulnerable groups

The Bulgarian National Center of Public Health and Analysis (NCPHA) - through its dedicated Department on Child and Youth Health - is actively involved in actions which improve maternal and child health, particularly among vulnerable groups.

Have a look at the examples below for more information.

The "Nurse Family Partnership - Bulgaria" project

The “Nurse Family Partnership – Bulgaria” project – a home visiting program for pregnant women and children up to 2 years of age from vulnerable groups (mainly the Roma community and families living in poverty). The NCPHA is involved in the programme’s adaptation and implementation within the health system, as a service to these targeted groups. The programme is further explained in the videos linked [available in English and Bulgarian.]

The We Care Project
The Center for Maternal and Child Health project

What are public health actors doing?

France - Health promoting strategies and preventative interventions

  • Under the new health inequalities program, Santé publique France (SPF) advocates the reduction of health inequities from early childhood. In partnership with UNICEF, SPF focuses on the inclusion health equity from early childhood is accounted in public policies, particularly with respect to air quality and mental health.
  • SPF developed a health promotion strategy around the first 1000 days of childhood to address the need for adapted interventions which account for different socioemotional environments that may impact children and their families, upholding the principle of proportionate universalism.

Other preventative interventions are aimed at families with psychosocial vulnerability factors. For example, the Panjo programme, organises home visits during pregnancy and the first year of the child, and the French adaptation of the Family and Parenting Support Program aims to strengthen parenting skills and develop older children’s (6-11 year olds) psychosocial skills.

Boy and girl with kite, wheelchair_463813179_lightblue

What are health actors doing?

Portugal - Fostering cross-sectoral collaboration in disease prevention

In 2019, the Portuguese National Health Service developed an integrated model for interpersonal violence prevention, implemented through the National Program for the Prevention of Violence in the Lifecycle within the Directorate-General for Health. It included interventions on health action for children and youth at risk, among others.

This National Program was created to reinforce prevention, diagnosis, and intervention mechanisms in interpersonal violence, with special attention to persons in situations of increased vulnerability, especially in early ages. Close collaboration is fostered among health professionals, police, child protection services, educational and judicial and social protection systems.

The National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA), a public organisation of the Ministry of Health, carries out research on the health needs of children and works closely with other governmental institutions to provide such information to decision-makers.

More information

P11_Boy walking to school_mid green

What is happening on the ground?

Adverse childhood experience (ACE) support hub

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Hub, established in 2017, is funded by the Welsh Government and hosted by Public Health Wales. The hub aims to transform public services, organisations, and communities to become aware of ACEs and to be trauma informed in practice, breaking the inter-generational cycle of ACEs, adversity, and trauma across the life course.

The ACE Hub has worked with a range of sectors, including housing, policing and criminal justice, youth work services and sport.  From the outset, one of the priorities has been to support the development of a Whole School Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing, and to ensure that every school in Wales is ACE aware, inclusive and can confidently respond to trauma, helping children to flourish and have the best start in life.

This inclusive approach has garnered impressive results, including increased pupil attendance and less exclusions and has also been adapted for use in pre-school settings. In efforts to transfer the educational system, the Hub has also produced a Trauma and ACE (TrACE) Informed Organisational Toolkit to encourage organisational self-assessment, identification of existing good practice and action plans around areas for strengthening.

More information

P11_Woman and child on bench

EU tools that help implement Principle 11

There are EU policies and instruments that can help relevant actors in the field, including public health, to work together to achieve EPSR Principle 11 on Childcare and Support to Children.

More information about the EU institutions and programmes is available on EuroHealthNet’s Health Inequalities Portal.

The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child

The EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child invites Member States to:

  • Prioritise children in national mental health strategies and build networks to support their mental wellbeing.
  • Invest in more effective violence prevention and protection measures; provide adequate support to vulnerable children who suffer violence.
  • Adopt legislation to ban corporal punishment in all settings.
  • Improve the functioning of child protection systems at national level.
  • Create a safe digital environment for children through effective and equal access to digital tools, digital and media literacy, accessible online educational tools.
  • Promote national strategies which move towards quality, family- and community-based care services.
The European Child Guarantee
Council Recommendation on High-quality Early Childhood Education and Care Systems
The European Care Strategy
The European Care Strategy

Have your say

Does your public health institute have any promising policies or practices in place that support the implementation of this EPSR principle?

Send your thoughts to EuroHealthNet's Policy Assistant, Emilia Lindquist at

What's next?

About EuroHealthNet

Building a healthier future for all by addressing the determinants of health and reducing inequalities.

EuroHealthNet is the Partnership of public health agencies and organisations building a healthier future for all by addressing the determinants of health and reducing inequalities. Our focus is on preventing disease and promoting good health by looking within and beyond the health system.

Structuring our work over a policy, a practice, and a research platform, we focus on exploring and strengthening the links between these areas.

Our approach focuses on integrated concepts to health, reducing health inequality gaps and gradients, working on determinants across the life course, whilst contributing to the sustainability and wellbeing of people and the planet.

Venn diagram new colours dark background
EN V Co-funded by_WHITE Outline

EuroHealthNet is funded by the European Union. However, the information and views set out on this website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission. The Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included on this website. Neither the Commission nor any person acting on the Commission’s behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

European Pillar of Social Rights Flashcards