European Platform for Investing in Children helps identify 'practices that work' across member states

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RAND Europe created and maintains the online European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC). Reflecting the European Commission’s policy focus on children at risk, EPIC collects, evaluates, and disseminates practices that improve outcomes for children. RAND applies a rigorous evaluation framework for the identification of effective, lasting, and transferable child policy practices in Europe.


In late February 2013, the European Commission (EC) adopted a new Recommendation: 'Investing in Children - breaking the cycle of disadvantage', annexed to the new Social Investment Package.

Referring to the new Recommendation, Commissioner László Andor launched the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) in a speech at the Council of Europe Conference on Poverty and Inequalities in Societies of Human Rights. Andor explained that EPIC 'will collect and disseminate innovative practices' in areas such as early childhood education and care or parenting support.

An EU news release noted, "For children, disadvantage and exclusion experienced at an early age continue to have an impact on their ability to succeed at later stages of their lives. This is reflected in high drop-out rates in education and reduced employment opportunities, often creating a cycle of disadvantage that is repeated across generations. Studies show that tackling childhood disadvantage early, before it compounds, is the best way to ensure that people live up to their full potential."

New steps will also be discussed with Member States to improve or complement EU indicators as regards child deprivation, quality and affordable childcare, children's health and the situation of the most vulnerable children.


RAND Europe is helping the EC by creating and maintaining the online EPIC platform, by redesigning the current European Alliance for Families (EAF) platform to reflect the EC’s new policy focus. EPIC will continue to serve as a platform for the collection and evaluation of good policy practices with relevance to children, and to foster cooperation and mutual learning in the field through thematic seminars and workshops.

The "Practices that Work" section of the website will continue to be maintained by RAND Europe, to highlight practices that have been found to have a positive impact on children and families in European Union Member States. Information on practices can be submitted online, and if their impact has been evaluated in the past, the practices are reviewed under a coherent evaluation framework. Where sufficient evidence exists, practices are listed in a separate section of the website for Evidence-Based Practices.

Project Team

Principal Investigator

Christian van Stolk

Current Team Members

  • Axelle Devaux
  • Barbara Janta
  • Katie Stewart
  • Miriam Broeks
  • Eleftheria Iakovidou
  • Sashka Dimo​va
  • Cloe Gendronneau
  • Lucy Hocking
  • Stijn Hoorens
  • Phillips William
  • Michaela Bruckmayer
  • Hui Lu

Former Team Members

  • Matteo Barberi
  • Ben Baruch
  • Julie Bélanger
  • Janna van Belle
  • Maya Buenaventura
  • Becky Ioppolo
  • Lauren Kendrick
  • Rebecca Kilburn
  • Teryn Mattox
  • Sunil Patil
  • Sue Phillips
  • Rachel Ross
  • Daniel Schweppenstedde
  • Yulia Shenderovich
  • Megan Sim
  • Martin Stepanek
  • Lance Tan

Published Research

  • Preschool children and teacher playing with xylophone, photo by Bernard Bodo/Adobe Stock

    Strengthening the quality of early childhood education and care through inclusion

    16 Jun 2020

    Ensuring effective access to quality early childhood education and care for all remains a challenge in Europe, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This policy memo helps decision makers better understand this challenge and suggests some possible solutions.

  • Family returning home, opening front door, photo by Monkey Business Images/Adobe Stock

    Understanding the housing conditions experienced by children in the EU

    10 Apr 2020

    The provision of quality and affordable housing is an important mechanism for tackling child poverty, promoting the social inclusion of children and minimising the risk of homelessness among children in the EU. Actions taken by EU countries and at the European level can improve the situation.

  • Illustration of traditional and nontraditional families, photo by ONYXprj/Adobe Stock

    Leave policies and practice for non-traditional families

    16 Aug 2019

    This policy memo provides an introduction to the access that parents in adoptive families, reconstituted families (families with step-parents and step-children), and families with same-sex parents have to different types of family leave in each of the EU member states.

  • Children seated on floor of elementary school classroom, photo by Stock

    Embedding a children’s rights perspective in policy and decision-making

    08 Aug 2019

    This policy memo provides an overview of the extent to which children’s rights are promoted and taken into account in national and EU policies and practice. The memo also discusses ways in which policies and wider initiatives facilitate children’s participation in decisions about their future.

  • Rearview shot of a young woman and her daughter having a conversation on the porch, photo by shapecharge/Getty Images

    Mechanisms supporting single parents across the EU

    05 Aug 2019

    Single-parent families are among the most financially vulnerable groups in society, with 47% of single-parent households at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU in 2017. This memo presents trends and risks for single parents across the EU, and provides an overview of existing support mechanisms.

  • Happy mother hugging young daughter, photo by fizkes/Adobe Stock

    Positive parenting interventions

    02 May 2019

    Parenting interventions share a broad aim of improving children’s health, wellbeing and behaviour, through the training and education of parents. In this policy memo, researchers explore the effectiveness of parenting interventions across different settings, why they are important, and how they can accessed.

  • Cute kids with special needs playing with developing toys while sitting at the desk in daycare center

    Access to quality education for children with special educational needs

    23 Jan 2019

    Researchers conducted an overview of the policy and practice of EU countries in ensuring access to quality education for children with special educational needs. They set out the policy framework and main approaches taken by member states, identify key challenges for policy-makers and practitioners, and highlight examples of practices from across the EU.

  • Father with his baby daughter working from home

    Family-Friendly Workplaces: Overview of Policies and Initiatives in Europe

    09 Oct 2018

    EU citizens face significant challenges in balancing their professional and family lives. Family-friendly workplaces allow employees flexibility both in their working hours and location of work. This policy memo provides an overview of policies and initiatives in EU member states supporting family-friendly workplaces

  • Mother cuddling toddler son in kitchen

    Changes in Child and Family Policies in the EU28 in 2017

    03 Aug 2018

    This report outlines changes and new developments during the past year in the area of child and family policies across the EU member states. It is aligned with the 2013 Recommendation ’Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ and its key indicators to measure progress.

  • Father kisses baby son on cheek

    Paternity and Parental Leave Policies Across the European Union

    25 Jul 2018

    Researchers provide an overview of the current paternity and parental leave provisions across EU states, and examine these provisions against the changes proposed within the framework of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the proposal for a Directive on Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers.

  • Refugee child in Slovenia

    Education for Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Europe

    25 Jul 2018

    Researchers offer a brief overview of national and school-level approaches to the inclusion of unaccompanied migrant children in formal education systems across EU member states. The policy memo also discusses wider policy responses to the integration of these children into the host societies.

  • Teacher has students put chairs on desks at end of day

    Implementing Evidence-Based Practices Effectively: A Practical Guide

    25 Jul 2018

    This policy memo provides a short resource guide for child-serving organisations to support effective implementation of evidence-based practices. The document is based on a more detailed version of the implementation guide developed in 2016 for the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC).

  • Poor, sad girl sitting against concrete wall

    Tackling Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in the EU

    11 May 2018

    Disadvantage in early life can have significant impacts on opportunities later in life. Social policy and welfare initiatives at the national level are still the most significant policy instruments to tackle child poverty.

  • Nursery children playing with musical instruments in the classroom

    Supporting Child-Serving Organisations in Effective Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices

    01 Dec 2016

    It is important to identify evidence-based practices that have been shown to successfully target the needs of child-serving organisations. Without effective implementation, however, programs are unlikely to succeed. This guide provides research-based information on how to most effectively support programme implementation.

  • Children wearing school backpacks sit outdoors on grass

    Education of EU Migrant Children in EU Member States

    17 Nov 2016

    There are clear disparities in educational performance between EU migrants and non-migrants and expected life chance outcomes. Member states are implementing a number of measures with promising results. Building a strong evidence base could help determine what works when responding to EU-migrant children's educational needs.

  • Quality and impact of Centre-based Early Childhood Education and Care

    04 Nov 2016

    Researchers reviewed current academic and policy debates on issues relating to the quality of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services. They examined the definitions and measurements of childcare quality in EU member states and found that views and understandings on what constitutes quality in ECEC differs across countries and actors involved.

  • Father carrying daughter on his shoulders by the sea in Cornwall, England

    Do Family Leave Policies in Europe Encourage Paternity Leave?

    20 Oct 2016

    A number of interlocking factors affect uptake of leave by fathers, including compensation, the availability of affordable childcare, the flexibility of leave arrangements, gender norms, and cultural expectations.

  • Maternity leave policies: Trade-offs between labour market demands and health benefits for children

    12 Oct 2016

    Maternity and parental leave provision across European Union countries can impact the breastfeeding of babies up to 6-months. Policymakers should consider complementary programmes that will facilitate breastfeeding while women participate in the labour market, for example by promoting company policies that encourage breastfeeding at work.

  • Children with earth ball

    Education Policies Can Help Migrant Children in EU

    16 Sep 2016

    Building relationships between educators and parents of migrant children in the EU, and dedicating more resources to schools with a high concentration of migrants, may help redress disparities in educational outcomes.

  • Children showing their painted hands

    The Role of the European Social Fund in Supporting Childcare Provision in the European Union

    25 Apr 2016

    Formal childcare has many benefits for young children and can also help parents return to work. The European Social Fund (ESF) can help create programs for parents to engage in education, training and employment while providing childcare services for their children.

  • Children have fun and learn while playing a board-game at the preschool class

    Using Evidence to Strengthen Policies for Investing in Children

    25 Feb 2016

    Some approaches to using evidence to inform policies related to children include conducting needs assessments, selecting practices that have shown promise in previous implementation, developing a logic model to help plan a practice and determine if it has achieved its objectives, and conducting or overseeing various types of evaluation including theory-based evaluations and counterfactual impact evaluations. This research explains how to begin the process.