Scarring effects of living in persistent poverty as a child can be lifelong
The Government must immediately outline how it intends to end the scandal of child poverty in Ireland, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.
Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, made her comments to mark the 30th International Day of the Eradication of Poverty on Monday, October 17.
“Based on the most recent CSO figures, Social Justice Ireland estimates there are over 580,000 people in this country living in poverty, of which almost 164,000 are under the age of 18. Another stark statistic is that more than 690,000 citizens are experiencing deprivation, with nearly 205,000 of them children.
“Of all the avoidable tragedies in this country, there is hardly a greater one than that of child poverty. The scarring effects of living in persistent poverty as a child can be lifelong, affecting everything from emotional development, mental health and physical wellbeing in adulthood to educational attainment and labour market participation.
“It is hugely wasteful as it inhibits economic potential in adulthood and reduces the contribution people can make to society. Dealing with the repercussions later in life is far more expensive – and less effective – than early interventions, which lead to future savings on welfare and criminal justice, as well as higher tax revenues.
“Eliminating child poverty requires a combination of targeted child and adult income supports, in addition to access to quality public services and genuinely free education.
“The Social Democrats have called for the creation of a multi-departmental Child Poverty Unit, to be overseen by the Department of the Taoiseach. Funding could be ring-fenced for the development and implementation of a National Child Poverty Action Plan within this unit, monitored by an Oireachtas Oversight Committee to ensure that key targets are met.
“The derisory Qualified Child Increase of €2 recently announced by the Government will have zero impact on reducing poverty levels for vulnerable families or single parent households dependent on social welfare.
“The Government needs to acknowledge that children live in households with adults. This means child poverty cannot be eliminated without providing proper financial supports to entire households.
“We are also of the view that our social protection system should be benchmarked to the cost of a Minimum Essential Standard of Living. This would help ensure that everyone has enough to live a dignified life and eliminate the corrosive effects of child poverty.”
October 16, 2022