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About the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) website

European Platform for Investing in Children, website on practices that work in child policy (c) European Union

The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) wants to provide information about all policies that can help strengthen the capacities of children and their families to face the unprecedented challenges that exist in the current economic climate in Europe.

What is EPIC?

The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) is an evidence-based online platform that provides information about policies that can help children and their families face the challenges that exist in the current economic climate in Europe.

In February 2013, the European Commission (EC) adopted the Recommendation “Investing in Children—breaking  the cycle of disadvantage” as part of the Social Investment Package, which proposed a long-term social strategy to support children and to help mitigate the effects of the current economic crisis.

The Recommendation provides guidance for European Union (EU) Member States on how to tackle child poverty and social exclusion through measures such as family support and benefits, quality childcare and early-childhood education. Social investment in individual capacities during the early years is particularly beneficial for children from a disadvantaged background and can provide large social returns. They are also a crucial factor in breaking cycles of intergenerational transmission of poverty.

EPIC is a tool that helps Member States implement the Recommendation. Within the framework of the Recommendation, EPIC will be used to collect and disseminate innovative and evidence-based practices that were found to have a positive impact on children and families in EU Member States. EPIC is a tool for monitoring activities triggered by the Recommendation. Practices that are evidence-based will be made available in the “Practices that Work” section of this website.

How does EPIC make a difference?

In the current economic situation, child poverty is on the rise. Furthermore, parents, and in particular many women, struggle to balance their working and family lives, a problem that can be exacerbated by insufficient childcare provision.

EPIC is a platform for sharing the best of policymaking for children and families and to foster cooperation and mutual learning in the field.  EPIC features innovative and evidence-based practices that have a positive impact on children and families in EU Member States. The “Practices that Work” section features evidence-based practices that have demonstrated effectiveness through rigorous research. The user registry of practices catalogues innovative practices being implemented throughout the EU. EPIC also participates in seminars and workshops around the EU on strategies for improving outcomes for children and families.

Who develops the content on EPIC?

The EPIC website is hosted at the Europa website of the  European Commission and its contents fall under the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL), Unit D2. The Directorate is located in Brussels and oversees the European Commission’s work on social policies and employment, in partnership with European governments, civil society, and other stakeholders.

Research and technical support for the EPIC platform is provided by RAND Europe, an independent, not-for-profit research organisation with offices in Cambridge and Brussels. One of the main aspects of this work consists in a review of evidence-based practices submitted to EPIC. More information about the practices and the review process is available on the website. The platform also benefits from the support of an independent, external expert panel consisting of leading European academics in the area of child and family policy; the members of the panel also provide input and peer review of the publications, and material prepared by EPIC. Dr. Christian van Stolk and Dr. Rebecca Kilburn lead the scientific work on EPIC at RAND. Christian van Stolk is the head of RAND Europe’s Employment, Education, Social Policy and Population programme, which includes an active evaluation and performance management practice, and has more than 10 years of research experience in social and employment policy. Rebecca Kilburn is a Senior Economist who helped develop the evidence criteria and processes used to conduct reviews for several systematic review projects, and she has overseen hundreds of systematic reviews of child and family practices.

How can I contact the EPIC team?

EPIC facilitates knowledge exchange on a variety of policies, programmes and practices among stakeholders and a wider audience of practitioners, academics and policy-makers. EPIC is one of the European Commission’s initiatives to encourage social innovation, and it welcomes engagement with relevant stakeholders through cooperation, dissemination, and enabling dialogue between organisations. It is an open platform: innovative child-related practices can be submitted on the website via an online form, and stakeholders and users can send an email for further information.

European Commission

DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

B-1049 Brussels

Belgium

These country-specific-recommendations (CSR)pdf(140 kB)were issued in June 2014 at the end of the European Semester by the European Commission to the various Member States in the area of child poverty and well-being. More attention for youth activation, inclusive education/early school leaving and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)/childcare are the policy recommendations that have emerged most frequently from the discussion between the Commission and the Member States during latest 2014 European Semester.

Child poverty in Europe

Child poverty remains a pervasive concern in the European Union. Eurostat data indicates that more than one in four children (28% of children in the EU-28) is at risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2012. This is partly due to the unprecedented challenges for European families arising from the current economic climate. However, the lack of a decent family income is not the only cause of child poverty. The Commission’s Recommendation ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ notes that access to vital services for children’s outcomes, such as housing, good-quality (pre-school) education and health care can also largely contribute to reducing deprivation among children in Europe. Limited access to these services impedes basic human rights and hinders a child’s development, often diminishing his or her chances to escape poverty in the long term. Thus, efforts to improve the well-being of children have to be tailored to their specific needs rather than being solely focused on the economic constrains of their parents.

In 2013, the European Commission set up the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) to to collect and disseminate innovative practices which were found to have a positive impact on children and families in EU Member States, but also to foster cooperation and mutual learning in the field. Member States are invited to implement effective policies and practices that will contribute to reducing the transmission of disadvantage as well as poverty and social exclusion, thus fostering sustainable and inclusive growth for Europe.

Evidence-Based Practices

The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) is an evidence-based online platform  providing information about policies and practices that can help children and their families to face up to the challenges that exist in the current economic climate in Europe. EPIC gathers, reviews and summarises this evidence on effective practices across the 28 member states. ‘Evidence-Based Practices’ are those practices that have demonstrated their effectiveness through rigorous evaluation and research. As a central component of EPIC, the Evidence-Based Practices are made available in an online repository on this website in the Practices that Work section. The spectrum of issues and themes covered by the practices is relevant to a variety of decision-makers and practitioners with topics, ranging from parenting and childcare to child development and child-wellbeing. EPIC facilitates the sharing of lessons learned notably through the Open Method of Coordination which facilitates the exchange of best practice among EU Member States.