Unlocking the Potential of Young Roma Children in Europe

Time: 27 April 2023, 14:00-16:00 CET
Room A3H1, European Parliament, Brussels
: ca. 50
Registration Link:
Click here

Moderation: Tomas de Jong, Junior Policy Manager for Health Equity (EPHA)

Keynote: Dr Milan Brglez, Member of European Parliament (S&D)


  • Aljosa Rudas, Program Manager, ISSA and REYN Initiative
  • Tanja Vasić on institutional care/antigypsyism
  • Reneta Krivozonova, Policy and Advocacy Officer on Child Poverty, Eurochild
  • Géraldine Libreau, Policy Officer for Early Childhood Education and Care, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission
  • Tentative Dragoș Pîslaru, Member of European Parliament (Renew Europe)


Each and every child deserves a fair start and equal opportunities in life. However, across Europe Romani children disproportionately face hardship during the early years and beyond. The first six years of a child’s life are critical in determining the rest of their lives. Early Childhood Development (ECD) is therefore crucial in ensuring that Romani children have all the opportunities to unlock their full and unique potential and grow up in good health and wellbeing – to grow and thrive.

However, there are barriers which make realising this difficult. The size of the problem is difficult to determine because of a lack of (disaggregated) data. Adverse conditions for Romani children and their parents are also persistent, as antigypsyism and poor social determinants lead to hardship in all facets of life; employment, education, health, housing to name a few. A result is that Romani children are disproportionately placed in separate schools, sent to ‘special needs education’, or simply removed from their parents and placed in institutional care. Poverty and discrimination run      through these issues like a red threat, a structural issue.
During this event, we try to illustrate these issues, by outlining the scale of the problem, by providing examples of how these issues might manifest in daily life for Romani children, and most importantly how this issue can be resolved through policy action.

Expected Outcomes

  1. Raising awareness on Romani Early Childhood Development (ECD)
  2. Bring to attention the issue of school segregation and overrepresentation of Romani children in institutional care
  3. Call to action for European and national policy makers to take action on ECD

Draft Agenda

(10 minutes)
The event is opened with a welcoming word from Tomas de Jong (EPHA), outlining the goals and structure of the event
(10 minutes)
Keynote Milan Brlgez
Milan Brglez of S&D will set the stage for the discussion, providing his perspective on Romani Early Childhood Development (ECD)
(20 minutes)
Unlocking the potential of young Roma children in Europe: from science to practice
Aljosa Rudas (REYN) will provide an introductory overview of Romani early childhood development based on ECD science and extensive experience of the REYN initiative in the field of early childhood, as well as bring evidence on the status of young Roma children in Europe (focusing on 11 countries) – outlining the rights of young Roma children in Europe to develop and thrive.
(20 minutes)
Experiences of antigypsyism and poverty
Tanja Vasić and Reneta Krivozonova (Eurochild) will take turns to illustrate what Romani children may experience because of antigypsyism. By describing the scale of the problem of institutionalisation of Roma children, systemic racism and antigypsyism and multiple discrimination are elaborated upon. How could social support help Roma families in need, what are their needs exactly and how could the initiative on Romani children in institutional care support in this?
(10 minutes)
Comfort Break
(10 minutes)
Call to Action
Building on the previous two presentation, this part of the event looks towards steps that are required to improve Romani Early Childhood Development. It both outlines the role of civil society, but also provides recommendations to policy makers. Central focus points are the power of partnership and the need to break down silos to foster progress. An example of this is the ‘First Years First Priorities’ campaign which provides civil society with an excellent angle of approach. After the event, a statement will be produced to underline what needs to be done.
(10 minutes)
Commission Input
Based on what was discussed, Géraldine Libreau, Policy Officer for Early Childhood Education and Care, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission will reflect and provide the Commission perspective. Based on what has been discussed, a representative from the European Commission responsible for Early Childhood Development will reflect. What avenues for action do Commission frameworks provide and does the Commission plan any action on the often-overshadowed issue of Romani children in institutional care?
(15 minutes)
Question and Answer Session
A chance for members from the audience to ask questions to the panellists or to make comments
(15 minutes)
Dragoș Pîslaru (tentative) will conclude the event with some final thoughts and a call to action. The event is then closed by Tomas de Jong