Online seminar about EU funds for independent living and deinstitutionalisation

On the 28th of June, the European Commission jointly with the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care and Hope and Homes for Children organised an online seminar for desk officers from DG EMPL, REGIO, RECOVER, NEAR and REFORM. The aim of the webinar was to inform the European Commission about the tools and good practices supporting independent living and family-and community-based care in light of the new funding regulations and policies.

The event counted on the participation of several speakers from the European Commission, academia, and civil society organisations presenting main EU policies and EEG publications, as well as practical examples on independent living.

Mr Loris di Pietrantonio, Head of Unit at DG EMPL responsible for programming and implementation of the European Social Fund +, opened the event followed by Professor Julie Beadle-Brown, who presented the report on the Transition from Institutional Care to Community-Based Services in 27 EU Member States, which she co-authored together with Professor Jan Šiška.

ProfessorBeadle-Brown presented the main finding of the study. During her intervention, she also stressed the need to develop person-centred and individualised support, the lack of affordable community-based services and housing, and the sustainability of EU-funded projects that promote deinstitutionalisation.

Ms Inmaculada Placencia Porrero, Senior Expert on social affairs at DG EMPL, presented a broad overview of the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, focusing on aspects connected to deinstitutionalisation and independent living. Among the actions foreseen in the Strategy, it was emphasized the guidance, which will be issued by the Commission by 2023, with recommendations to Member States aiming at improvements on independent living and inclusion in the community, in order to enable persons with disabilities to live in accessible, supported housing in the community, or to continue living at home (including personal assistance schemes). In addition, the speaker also presented the European Accessibility Act, in its connection with independent living.

Ms Michela Costa, Director of Global & EU Advocacy at Hope and Homes for Children,presented the updated version of EU funds Checklist to Promote Independent Living and Deinstitutionalisation. The purpose of the checklist is to ensure EU funds in the 2021-2027 programming period contribute to independent living and inclusion in the community. More specifically, the checklist supports EC Desk Officers to check the consistency of the measures with the legal and policy frameworks in the fields of:

  • Transition from institutional to family-based and community-based services for children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems and elderly persons
  • Development of quality family-based and community-based services
  • Prevention of separation of children, including with disabilities, from their families
  • Prevention of segregation and institutionalisation of children, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health problems, older people and homeless people, regardless of the residence status.

Finally, EEG members presented practical examples of community-based services. Ms Irene Bertana, Senior Policy Officer at the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), presented an EU-funded project on providing technical assistance on preparing of the deinstitutionalisation strategy in Greece. Ms Ines Bulic, Deputy Director at the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), presented a practical example about personal assistance as one of the types of community-based support.

Participants posed questions to speakers, mainly regarding the implementation of community-based services given the obstacles related to the lack of accessibility of buildings in many EU countries and regarding the sustainability of investing in  deinstitutionalisation. They have also raised questions about residential care for children with disabilities, in particular how to ensure best care in family-based care, and how to develop family-based services and increase number of foster families. The European Child Guarantee was mentioned as a tool to address those needs. The online seminar provided a space for both desk officers and members of the EEG to discuss the persistent questions and share the good practices as well as challenges and opportunities intertwined with the deinstitutionalisation process.

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