Social Democrats Spokesperson for Children, Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore, called for the retention and enhancement of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, following media reports of a proposal to disband the department.
Deputy Whitmore said “it would be a hugely regressive step for children and young people across the country if it were confirmed that the Department of Children would be split across several different Departments.
“Now more than ever, under COVID-19, we need a coordinated approach to address the needs of children. While children may not have been the most vulnerable in terms of getting sick, all children are being impacted in social, developmental and educational areas. Some children have and will experience very significant detrimental impacts due to food poverty, educational disadvantage and digital divides, and the mental health and well-being impacts of isolation. Some will have been put into at-risk situations under COVID-19 restrictions and their welfare is at stake.
“Coming out of Covid19, we must have a coordinated approach to ensure that children’s needs, including those of the more vulnerable or more impacted, are being met as we transition back into normal life. The Department will have significant additional challenges to deal with to ensure that the impact on children is mitigated and managed, and its functions will need to be enhanced to meet this challenge.
“It is worth noting that as the Government proposes an exit plan out of COVID-19 restrictions, it will be the Department of Children and Youth Affairs that will be responsible for managing childcare provision as people start working again. Without childcare, people can’t get back to work. The vital role of childcare needs cohesive and joined-up thinking and planning and will demand huge efforts from the Department. Dispersing the functions of the Department will be a pointless and costly distraction at this crucial time.
“Previously, without a Department or a Minister, there was fragmented accountability in the system which meant that a lot of vulnerable children fell through the cracks. We are entering a very difficult period for our country post-Covid. We need children, young people and their families to be central to any recovery and keeping the Department of Children and Youth Affairs would be the first step in acknowledging that” concludes Whitmore.
5th May 2020