Child Guarantee for children with disabilities.

The issues related to children with disabilities have been largely absent from EU policy
development and implementation and not much is documented with regards to the lives of
children with disabilities and their families.
The FSCG Country and PA Reports describe the life situation of children with disabilities
and their families as dire in some countries and unknown in others. Families with children
with disabilities tend to be poorer than other families, have less access to good-quality
services, more difficulty in securing employment, and fewer opportunities to develop their
social networks.
While the EU Member States are signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child (CRC – which is inclusive of children with disabilities), and the EU and its
Member States are signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities (CRPD – which is specific to children with disabilities), the European
Disability Strategy 2020 is mostly silent on their inherent obligations under both
Conventions.
Despite normative frameworks, most children with disabilities in the EU Member States still
have very different life experiences from their peers without disabilities:
 they still do not have adequate access to nutrition that fits their needs and is of
high quality;
 they still lack opportunities to attend and participate in inclusive Early Childhood
Education and Care (ECEC);
 they largely remain separated from their peers without disabilities in education
settings, being placed in special schools or in special classes in regular schools;
 they still have difficulty accessing quality healthcare – both primary healthcare and
specialised care; and
 they still live in environments that do not adequately respond to their needs.
Even within the group commonly described as children with disabilities there are marked
differences between children’s experiences, not only due to their own individualities.
Preconceived (often erroneous) notions of disability operate in policy and in practice, giving
the impression that some children in particular categories (for example, children with
intellectual disabilities) are more disabled than others (for example, children with a physical
disability); that children with visible disabilities (for example, children who are blind) are
more disabled than children with invisible disabilities (for example, children with dyslexia);
and that levels of severity are static and impairment-related, rather than fluid, subject to
change, and person-specific.
As demonstrated below, the policies aimed at providing and/or regulating services are
mostly silent on children with disabilities or envision only the minimum requirements, such
as accessibility of public infrastructure or waiving of fees for services. In most countries in
the EU, there is a lack of understanding of disability as part of the human condition, of the
individuality of each child (with a disability) within the group of children with disabilities,
and a lack of understanding of the impact of disability not only on a child but on the entire
family.
As recommended below, the first steps in a future Child Guarantee should be to make
children with disabilities visible at all policy and action levels, and a dual approach to
children with disabilities is envisioned. On the one hand, disability must be mainstreamed
throughout policy and implementation, ensuring that all policies and services envision
children with disabilities as part of the overall population they aim to serve. On the other
hand, it is important to recognise that children with disabilities and their families (like other
children from vulnerable populations) may also require specific policies and services in
order to be able to realise their rights. Thus, making children with disabilities visible in all
EU policy, and ensuring the normative frameworks that already exist are monitored and
enforced, should be the primary aim of a future Child Guarantee.

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