A higher inclusion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in early childhood education and care (ECEC) services is one of the top priorities of the European Union ECEC policy. However, details about the impact of this on Romani and Traveller children are still not available.
The EU has allocated significant funds to support Roma inclusion initiatives and actions for young children. Through REYN, we want to make sure that young children are a priority in mainstream policies and that funds are allocated to services and infrastructures at the national/local level.
The 2011 “EU Framework for National Roma Integration strategies up to 2020” prompted EU Member States to develop national Roma integration strategies (NRIS) and explicitly mentioned the role of early childhood education and care in overcoming barriers for Roma. Despite having included ECEC in their NRIS as a priority, most of the countries have restricted their focus to formal preschool education. This has let several key early childhood services for the youngest ones – in the fields of health, nutrition, social protection, and housing – fall off the agenda.
REYN calls on national governments to implement national strategies on Romani integration and prioritize early childhood development. States have so far undervalued the potential of ECEC services in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.
Ending discrimination and exclusion of children in Europe will benefit the entire society. Children who receive the proper education and care develop the skills needed to contribute positively to society.
Evidence from large-scale studies shows that quality ECEC and nurturing care in early childhood lead to multiple benefits. While economists highlight the ‘return on the investment’ argument, the increased social cohesion and development of each child’s potential to the fullest, regardless of their talents, is the strongest argument for promoting quality ECEC.
 Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe. 2014 Edition. Eurydice and Eurostat Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice/Eurostat, 2014.