Social services are a key component of child protection systems. When social services systems fail to effectively protect children’s rights and well-being, the risk of child rights violations increases drastically. This may cause children to mistrust institutions and service providers thus increasing the odds of further children rights violation. In order to effectively protect children who are in vulnerable situations, social services need to take a child-centred approach.

The Council of Europe Recommendation on children’s rights and social services friendly to children and families (2011) builds on child rights principles and provides a framework for member states to look at social services legislation, policies and delivery with a critical eye, to enhance their work and, ultimately, to contribute to better outcomes for children.

Accessible, appropriate and adapted to the needs of every child

The Recommendation builds on three principles: the provision of social services in the best interest of the child, the child’s rights to participation and the child’s right to protection. These three principles are to be applied to all social services provided to children, including general, specialised and intensive social services and in all aspects of social service delivery.

General elements of child-friendly social services:

  • Information and advice
  • Accessibility of services
  • Availability
  • Appropriateness, suitability
  • Interdisciplinary and multi-agency collaboration
  • Professional competency: training, supervision and accountability
  • Confidentiality and privacy rights

Recommendation on children’s rights and social services friendly to children and families (2011) also available in: ARA - AZER - ROU – SRBTUR

Children and Social Services (2016)

Exhibition “Austerity Bites: Children’s Voices” introduces 32 short films made by children

The Council of Europe and the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) launch an exhibition expressing children’s views on how the economic crisis and austerity measures affect them and their rights.


European Commission – Integrated child protection systems