Addressing the 100 participants of the event, who came from all around Europe and represented both public authorities and civil society organisations, European Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner underlined the timeliness and relevance of these standards, which she stressed in a key message: "The European Commission is your committed partner in the promotion of the rights of all children, particularly those with no parents to take care of them". She assured that children without parental care will have a special place in the long-term EU strategy on children to be launched in 2008 and that the European Commission will fully cooperate in the implementation of the standards.
The Quality4Children standards were presented by young people actively involved in the project from the start, who shared their personal experiences as illustrations of the standards. They showed how naturally and efficiently children and young people can be involved in a project aimed at developing policies that affect them.
As she underlined that the Quality4children standards are an important contribution to one aspect of the child-care system reform, Judita Reichenberg, UNICEF, expressed her congratulations for the innovative project process as well as the involvement of children, care givers, social workers and social scientists from over 30 European countries.
This participative approach was also highly welcomed by Verena Taylor, representative of the Council of Europe. As stressed by Nigel Cantwell, UNICEF/ISS consultant, the clear complementarity of the work done by the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the Quality4Children project means that the standards "should be invaluable in stimulating improvements in alternative care systems in Europe and elsewhere and should notably underpin the necessary cooperation at all levels, and between State and non-State actors, for bringing these improvements about".
Such a cooperation, with the support of the European Commission and MEP Lissy Gröner and in the framework of the current EU agenda on the rights of the child, should help raise the voices of the hundreds of thousands of children without parental care in Europe.
The Quality4Children standards are now available and can be downloaded at www.quality4children.info