Social Democrats TD and Spokesperson for Children Jennifer Whitmore has today called on the Minister for Children and the Minister for Health to include a child psychologist or child development expert on the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
Deputy Whitmore says:
“On NPHET there is a range of public health science experts tasked with developing public health policy on a national level in response to COVID19. However, there is no voice representing the child’s perspective.
“While health is very important, the emotional wellbeing of children must also be a factor in critical decisions made. People forget that children are also suffering under COVID19 and will continue to suffer educationally, emotionally and mentally if we are not cognisant of their needs.
“The lack of child development expertise on NPHET means that children’s emotional, health and educational needs are not being considered in a balanced way in advice being given to Government on actions to be taken. The position of the Minster for Children that the current arrangement whereby the Department consults with their own expert to feed into a submission then sent onto NPHET is inadequate.
“Children in this country deserve a more direct form of representation at the decision-making table. The consequences are clear: there is no roadmap in place for how schools are to re-open taking into account the social needs of children; there has been no national campaign to date to address the negative commentary that exists out there about young people under COVID19 or an attempt to address outstanding emotional, development and education concerns particularly for those children who are vulnerable or who have special needs.
“My concern is about placing the best interests of the child at the centre of decision-making and national policy. I have repeated calls for the establishment of a Transition Taskforce for children and young people to address their concerns as they transition out of COVID19 restrictions. I will be making representations to the Minister for Health on the need for child expertise representation on NPHET and hope the response will be positive to the benefit of all children” concludes Whitmore.
20th May 2020