Children's rights organizations Save the Children and Defence for Children say concrete measures are necessary to improve the situation of children in the Netherlands who live in poverty.
No child should be sidelined
During a meeting on October 11, they made four specific recommendations to the Dutch government and the European Commission that should prevent children in poor families from becoming disadvantaged because of their parents' income.
Both organizations announced their recommendations in the Europe House. They were welcomed by Jetta Klijnsma, the Dutch state secretary for social affairs and employment:
"I am happy Save the Children and Defence for Children have announced these recommendations, because no child deserves to be sidelined. With the extra 100 million euros that the government will allocate structurally to fighting child poverty, more children can be reached every year."
- Strengthen the voice of children: Every child in Europe has the right to be heard and to participate in the discussion on decisions that will affect their lives. In practice, this proves to be difficult: only 4.6 percent of Dutch municipalities guarantee participation for children. The children who are involved in the discussions are often from affluent backgrounds.
- Guarantee access to social security for children: The Netherlands is the only country in the world to make a reservation on article 26 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the result of which is that children do not have independent access to social security, but only through their parents. Defence for Children and Save the Children advocate to have this reservation removed.
- A European pillar of social rights for all children: It is important to pay attention to groups of children that are vulnerable: refugee children, children who need child protective services, children with a handicap and children in the Dutch Caribbean. This has to happen with European partnership and fits excellently in the new social pillar of the European Union.
- Invest structurally in children: The Dutch government takes fighting poverty seriously; recently, 100 million euros have been made available twice to fight poverty. But extra financing is not guaranteed to reduce child poverty. It is important that children and parties involved know which rights they have and what means are available to them.
Child poverty in the Netherlands
The children's rights organizations are worried about the significant amount of children in the Netherlands that lives in poverty and the short-term and long-term effects that will have on children.
According to the latest numbers of Statistics Netherlands (CBS), 421,000 children in the Netherlands are at risk of social exclusion and 131,000 of them grow up in a family with a long-term low income. Moreover, almost 60 percent of these children are from a family with two working parents.
It is therefore essential that the new social pillar of the European Union focuses on equal opportunities, access to the labor market and fair conditions of employment.