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Breaking the silence: a month of raising awareness about the status of young Roma children in Europe

The REYN Study unveils a critical truth: young Roma children across Europe grapple with challenges that touch every facet of their lives – social, physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. It is a story that needs to be told, and we’re committed to bringing it to the forefront.

In a powerful move to amplify these voices, starting today – International Roma Day (April 8th) – and continuing every Monday in April, REYN will unveil a series of compelling facts on different key areas that profoundly influence the development and overall well-being of Roma children.

This journey is not just ours – it’s yours too. Join us in breaking the silence and casting a spotlight on the lives of young Roma children.



Get involved, make an impact, and be a part of this vital conversation. Use our hashtags #EURomachildren, #InternationalRomaDay to connect, engage, and spread the word. Together, we can turn awareness into action for a brighter future for Roma children.









Promoting social justice and inclusion for young Roma children in Europe

Today, the World Day of Social Justice, is a day to promote social justice and address global issues such as poverty, exclusion, and discrimination.

n this occasion, we aim to highlight the struggles faced by young Roma children and their families in Europe, enduring discrimination, segregation, and social exclusion that limits their opportunities and hinders their potential.

Early childhood development plays a crucial role in establishing a strong foundation for lifelong learning and health, and stark inequalities that Roma children face in these crucial days. However, the lack of data on young Roma children impedes the development of responsive policies.

To address this gap, the REYN Early Childhood Research Study (2023) provides valuable data and insights that can inform policies and practices to improve the lives of Roma children and their communities.

Learn more about the REYN Research and join us in advocating for social justice and inclusion for Roma children and families. Together, we can make a difference and create a more just and equitable society for all. #WorldDayofSocialJustice #REYNStudy #RomaChildren

REYN Study: Stimulating data-informed decisions for young Roma children in Europe

The data collected in the research conducted by ISSA, through its REYN initiative, to analyse the situation of young Roma children and their families across 11 European countries, has led REYN to disseminate its findings urging decision-makers to include young Roma children in transformative early childhood policies and programs. The research has been developed in collaboration with researchers from the Centre of Roma Studies (CEG) at CREA – University of Barcelona.

Data on key areas impacting children’s development
By analyzing six key areas that impact the lives of young Roma children and their families (family status and living conditions, health and well-being, safety and security, early learning, responsive parenting and discrimination), the REYN Early Childhood Research Study (REYN Study) reveals the multiple challenges and barriers that young Roma children and their families face in these areas, such as poverty, social exclusion, poor health, low educational attainment, and limited access to quality services. It also highlights the strengths and resilience of Roma communities, as well as the potential of early childhood interventions to improve their outcomes and opportunities.

Informing and inspiring actions to transform the lives of young Roma children
Throughout 2023, in partnership with key stakeholders in Europe, REYN has organized several events and activities to share the study findings and stimulate decision-makers for the inclusion of young Roma children in transformative early childhood policies and programs. These include:

  • Unlocking the Potential of Young Roma Children in Europe”, a public event at the European Parliament (EP) hosted by Dr Milan Brglez, EP Member, during the Roma Week in Brussels, co-organized by REYN, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Eurochild, and the Minority Initiative.
  • ISSA Connects for Learning, which featured the launch of a cross-country analysis of the REYN research. Held in Opatija, Croatia, the event was attended by REYN Nationals and ISSA Members.
  • Inclusion of Roma children in Early Childhood Education and Care”, an online event aimed at local governments and municipalities, recognizing their role in enhancing opportunities for marginalized groups at early stages, including Roma. This event was organized by Eurocities and UNICEF.

For updates or more information, subscribe to the REYN Newsletter or follow REYN on Facebook and X.

Breaking the cycle of discrimination of Roma children through early childhood education

“I have had a negative experience with my child’s teacher because of my child being Roma. I repeatedly contacted the school to ask why my child had to sit at the back of the class, and in addition to not answering my question, the attitude was increasingly rude. As a result, my child did not attend school for a whole month.”

Roma parent | Kosovo

The situation described above by this Roma parent in the REYN Early Childhood Research Study (REYN Study) is still very common for many Roma children in Europe. The pressing issue of segregation and discrimination faced by Roma children at all levels of education is still persistent.

One of the most common and complex barriers Roma children face is discrimination. As Aljosa Rudas, Program Manager, International Step by Step Association (ISSA), stated in a recent webinar (“Inclusion of Roma children in Early Childhood Education and Care”- watch the recording) organized by Eurocities and UNICEF: “Young Roma children face multiple inequalities in areas of their lives that impact their development and growth.”

Discrimination both at institutional and individual levels greatly affects access to education for Roma children and therefore, their equal learning opportunities from the start. The evidence is overwhelming: according to the REYN Study, 60% of Roma children under the age of three do not have access to early childhood education and care services nearby, and only 44% between the ages of three and seven (or the starting age of compulsory primary education) are enrolled in early childhood education, according to the European Parliamentary Research Service.1 

A call to end Roma children segregation in education in the European Union

The recent European Parliament’s resolution on October 4, 2023 ‘Segregation and discrimination of Roma children in education’ is a leap forward to tackle the problem of continued segregation of Roma children. It stresses that all children, irrespective of their ethnic origin, must benefit from equal and free educational opportunities, which is not the case across the European Union (EU).

While listing the many issues still to be tackled, the resolution also highlights the urgent need for comprehensive and effective measures to eliminate systemic discrimination in the EU, such as the participation of Roma children in early childhood education.

Early childhood education and care play a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of discrimination and disadvantage faced by Roma children. The REYN Early Childhood Research Study has shown that the participation of Roma children in early childhood and preschool education has a profoundly positive impact. It not only enhances their overall development but also significantly contributes to their future educational attainment, access to quality employment, and improved living conditions, all while breaking the cycle of marginalization and discrimination.

REYN’s research findings indicate that early childhood education and care programs that are culturally sensitive and inclusive have the potential to bridge the educational gap that many Roma children face. By providing accessible and high-quality early childhood education and care infrastructure and services, Member States can create an enabling environment where young Roma children can thrive, develop their potential, and take part in the education system on equal footing with their peers.


Photo: Roma and non-Roma children in a kindergarten in Korca, Albania. Courtesy of Save the Children.


1 Breaking barriers to Roma children’s education and inclusion. https://eurocities.eu/latest/breaking-barriers-to-roma-childrens-education-and-inclusion/

REYN: 10 years of keeping Roma children in the spotlight


On 9 December 2022, ISSA organised “ISSA Connects to Celebrate: 10 years of REYN“, a special event that provided an opportunity to learn from the 10 years of existence of ISSA’s REYN initiative, about its unique contribution to creating quality environments for young Roma children to develop, learn and thrive.

The program featured REYN’s Footprints: building blocks for long-term impact showcasing achievements and examples of good practices from different European countries and provided a platform for discussions about the status of young Roma children, highlighting existing challenges and responsive solutions.

During the two-hour session, relevant Roma and non-Roma experts and professionals, National REYNs and ECD professionals involved in REYN’s success—including those who spearheaded the initiative— explored potential avenues forward to provide young Roma children with equal and quality developmental opportunities.

Watch the recording of the online celebratory event

Celebrating 10 years of REYN

The Romani Early Years Network was established in 2012 as an initiative of ISSA in partnership and with financial support from the Roma ‘Kopaçi’ Initiatives at the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Early Childhood Programme, in response to the growing demand for professional development opportunities for practitioners working with young Roma and Traveller children. REYN aimed to address the issues informed by the Roma Early Childhood Inclusion studies and other reports, pinpointing a scarcity of Romani ECD professionals, pedagogues and paraprofessionals, a lack of adequate and culturally sensitive resources for those working in this area, and few mechanisms for professional development opportunities to support those working in early years settings with Romani families and their children.

Over the ten years of bringing together Roma and non-Roma professionals, Roma and pro-Roma civil society organizations, as well as engaging with relevant stakeholders, both at national and international levels, as an initiative, REYN grew and expanded its programmatic portfolio. 

Starting from building capacity at the country level for Roma professionals and enabling national REYNs to connect professionals at country levels around specific topics and actions, over the years, REYN became a platform for learning, sharing, knowledge creation, advocacy and joining efforts around specific actions and issues related to the status of young Roma children.    

Since 2012, REYN creates quality environments for young Roma children to develop, learn and thrive!

Celebrating the ten years of REYN is at the same time the celebration of ten years of visibility of the needs of young Roma children and their families and the iteration of REYN’s commitment to bringing the early childhood development of young Roma children into Roma discourse into the European policy agenda.  


Learn more about ISSA Connects

ISSA Connects for Ukraine event

Since the war in Ukraine started, ISSA Network’s efforts have provided timely and meaningful support to children and families affected by the war and in countries where they fled.

ISSA Connects for Ukraine is a special event where ISSA Members, including the Transcarpathian Regional Charitable Fund “Blaho” (REYN Ukraine), will share the challenges they face, as well as the solutions they are providing to support the children and families they work with throughout the devastating impacts of war.

Click here for more information and registration.


The Situation of Young Roma Children in Europe – a New Milestone in Early Childhood Research

Although there is a concern for Roma inclusion at the European level, there is a significant knowledge gap about the status of children under the age of six, particularly the youngest. This lack of data impedes the development of responsive policies and programmes to revert their situation. 

To address this issue, Romani Early Years Network (REYN) Initiative is launching the REYN Early Childhood Research, a study that sheds light on young Roma children and their parents throughout Europe. The study brings together unprecedented Roma-related early childhood data from 11 countries. It catalyzes solid evidence for urgent and effective policies and programs enabling each young Roma to reach their full potential – to grow and thrive!  

REYN Early Childhood Research showcases a unique way of conducting research on Roma-related topics. The study, led by Roma researchers, involved Roma and non-Roma country researchers and early childhood experts gathering data in the 11 countries where National REYNs operate.   

The lack of evidence on young Roma children in Europe picturing their status and needs makes the REYN Early Childhood Research a unique piece of evidence reinforcing the importance of early years as well as influencing the agenda of prioritization and investment in young Roma children.  

REYN Early Childhood Research, carried out with the support of the Open Society Foundations, was initiated in 2021 and has been done in partnership with the Roma Studies Groups (CEG) at CREA – University of Barcelona. 

Covering five key areas that impact a child’s development such as health, hygiene and nutrition, safety and security as well as early learning and living environment, the study analyzes structural and emerging issues that might have widened during the COVID-19 crisis, leading to an increase of inequality and social exclusion. 

Country data is already available (see infographics below) and the final report of the study will be launched soon and disseminated via our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) and REYN newsletter. Stay tuned and subscribe today! 

Photo: Courtesy of Tomáš Rafa


REYN EARLY CHILDHOOD RESEARCH

REYN Early Childhood Research Study

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

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8 April – REYN gives visibility to young Roma children affected by the war in Ukraine

This day last year, when we marked the 50th International Roma Day, we enthusiastically looked toward a better Europe for all, emphasizing the fundamental need for equality, inclusion, and participation to fight antigypsyism — we all hoped this year would be different.

But, one year later, the persistent discrimination and social inequalities that Roma in Ukraine face are only exacerbated by war. Roma are encountering additional hardships when seeking humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs, even while trying to cross borders to safety.

Today, we want to tell you the stories of young Roma children and their families experiencing additional adversity due to the war and share one organization’s work to bring hope on this 51st International Roma Day.

Hear me – See me – Stand with me tells the story of the REYN Ukraine‘s remarkable work, acknowledging their tireless efforts to create safe and welcoming spaces for Roma families fleeing war zones. A Station of Hope serves as a safe haven; it provides a welcoming environment where children can express themselves, be heard, play, and interact with peers. At the same time, parents can engage with professionals, learn, and support one another. Despite the harsh environment of war, a Station of Hope succeeds in building community and creating a sense of normalcy for children and their families.

Watch the video here. How will you contribute to making 2022 different for young Roma children and their families? Will you hear Roma, see Roma, stand with Roma? Take to Twitter with the hashtag #standwithRoma to join the conversation.

Khetaun sam zoraleder. Opre Roma! / Together, we grow stronger. Rise up Roma!