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Statement of values for services for children 0-10

Our image of the child is what Loris Malaguzzi, a leading European figure in the field of services for young children, termed the 'rich' child: a child born with great potential that can be expressed in a hundred languages; an active learner, seeking the meaning of the world from birth, a co-creator of knowledge, identity, culture and values; a child that can live, learn, listen and communicate, but always in relation with others; the whole child, the child with body, mind, emotions, creativity, history and social identity; an individual, whose individuality and autonomy depend on interdependence, and who needs and wants connections with other children and adults; a citizen with a place in society, a subject of rights whom the society must respect and support.

We believe the child has an important place both in the public domain of society and in the private domain of the family. The family is essential to the child's well-being and development, to the child feeling loved, valued and cared for, and to the child's construction of identity, culture and value. The family is a site of diversity, a diversity that must be respected as a fundamental element of European society. But like the child, the family does not exist in isolation, it is part of society and in relationship with that society. The family has an important role in upbringing, but that role is mediated by many wider forces: the support and respect it receives from society; the demands of the workplace and a more and more competitive capitalism; the influences of an increasingly powerful media and information technology; and much else besides. The family, in short, may provide a private domain for childhood, but it is embedded in the public domain; it is neither the first nor last educator, but an important part of a complex network of educative relationships within which the child is situated.

This child requires and deserves a service that is holistic in approach, which assumes the inseparability of care and education, reason and emotion, body and mind; which has the potential for an infinite range of possibilities - cultural, linguistic, social, aesthetic, ethical, political and economic; and which is a meeting place for children and adults in the physical but also the social, cultural and political sense of the word. This is a service envisaged as a public institution, a forum and a children's space, a site for encounter and relating, where children and adults meet and commit to something, where they can dialogue, listen and discuss in order to share meanings. It is a place of ethical and political praxis, a space for research and creativity, coexistence and pleasure, critical thought and emancipation. It is a place for the formation of individuality and autonomy, but also for strengthening interdependency and solidarity without which individuality and autonomy are not possible. Last but not least, it is a right of all citizens, from birth.

Young children and their services: developing a

European approach
A Children in Europe policy paper

Read the policy paper

Today, across Europe, there is widespread recognition of the need for services for young children and their families. International organisations, including the European Union, different levels of government, social partners, NGOs and many parents call for services. But what services? On what principles and values should they be based? Is this a matter purely for member states at national and local level? Or does more need to be done at an EU level? And, if so, what action is needed? Is there a need for a European approach to services for young children? These questions are addressed in this policy paper.

Children in Europe is a network of national magazines that have joined together to produce a unique magazine: unique because it is published in 14 European countries and 12 European languages. Children in Europe writes about services for young children and their families, and it is for all people and organisations concerned with these services and children’s issues. Children in Europe’s aims include the creation of a forum – a ‘European space’ - for the exchange of ideas, practice and information and contributing to the development of policy and practice at European and national levels. This discussion paper, prepared by the Editorial Board of Children in Europe, is intended to stimulate a democratic dialogue about European policy and the need for a European approach to services for young children, and so to support the creation of a European politics of childhood.

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