Center for Child Health and Development (Centro per la Salute del Bambino) has recently joined the First Years First Priority Campaign member. To them, advocacy work is an important component of their work. The state of play in the early childhood area where they have worked in country-wide since 1999, continuously demonstrates the importance of scaling-up the reach of programmes and systems in order to maximise impact and reduce the gaps in coverage and continuity which are common in small-scale projects.

However, advocacy work is time-consuming and has unpredictable results. Successful advocacy that CSB has contributed to include the focus given to children by Italy’s New Generation Fund which has brought unprecedented investments in daycare and in social support to families in difficult circumstances through multidisciplinary teams. Over the past few years, more Italian regions have been pushed to fully adopt the legislation on the right to full entitlement to healthcare for children whose parents are still undocumented. However, persistent advocacy efforts have, as yet, failed to influence the government to invest in guaranteeing enough quality personnel for daycare services, which is likely to cause a serious bottleneck.

CSB believes in the power of alliances and networks as key instruments for effective advocacy work. As a result, they are members of the two key child rights networks in Italy, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Alleanza per l’Infanzia.

Advocacy networks in which CSB participates

The Italian Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) network has been active for two decades and comprises more than 100 non-profit organisations active in the field of child rights. Its general aim is to guarantee independent, permanent and coordinated monitoring of the application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to identify existing gaps, and advocate for addressing them with appropriate policies at regional and national government level, as many competencies are attributed to regional governments.  

The network prepares yearly reports and recommendations to the national and regional governments, based on contributions from members of the network. The report is presented annually to the Parliament while specific recommendations are formally presented to counterparts in meetings held with ministries and at regional level. The regional reports, include a breakdown of all available indicators regarding the child condition in health, education welfare and civil rights and is a relatively recent development. It has been proven to be effective in mobilising civil society locally and reaching policy makers at regional level.

In November 2022, the CRC network developed an Agenda per l’Infanzia, indicating 10 priorities for the new Government. The main strength of the CRC network is its official recognition within the UN based CRC monitoring system, with a periodic report sent to the UN Committee in charge of CRC monitoring in Geneva. A weakness of this fragmented composition of NGOs is the difficulty to develop a comprehensive view of the field that goes beyond specific themes. However, the joint development of the annual report and regional reports represents an opportunity for all members to view their own objectives within a broader perspective.

Alleanza per l’Infanzia (AI) was founded in 2018 by a group of experts in child and family policy, and has grown to include about 40 members, including the main trade unions, UNICEF Italian Committee, professional associations such as those of educators, paediatricians, psychologists, social workers and others. AI is essentially a think tank which relies on experts — for example, trade unions participate through their experts in welfare and family policies — holds seminars, develops and publishes analytic and policy documents, and intervenes in the public debate through articles in the main newspapers.

AI also collaborates with specific Ministries and the Parliament, particularly the Commissione Parlamentare per l’Infanzia and parliamentarians who are devoted to matters regarding children, adolescents and family policies. Currently, AI is planning a national meeting with ANCI – the Italian Association of Municipalities, which is a key counterpart as most of the services delivered to families and children (family centers, daycare centers, etc.) are run by municipalities. The main strength of AI is its authoritative and multidisciplinary voice, which brings together the main experts around child and family policies.