Childhood is short and the government has limited time to intervene

The Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card for 2022 makes clear that the government is continuing to fail our most vulnerable children, according to Social Democrats Children’s Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore.

“The government has received an ‘E’ grade on child homelessness, due to persistent increases in the numbers of children becoming homeless in 2021. In December, there were 1,077 families and 2,451 children experiencing homelessness across the country. In Dublin, 25pc of children living in emergency accommodation have been there for more than two years.

“The report notes that, in the initial phase of the pandemic, the number of families and children experiencing homelessness decreased. However, this was directly related to a ban on evictions and a ban on rent increases. Once the government lifted those measures, the numbers entering homelessness began inexorably increasing once more – and the government has no plan to stop this.

“The government also received an ‘E’ grade for mental health supports for children – and, in particular, the continued practice of admitting children to adult psychiatric units. Last year, 25 young people were placed on adult wards, which are completely unsuitable for juvenile patients.

“As recently as last month, Children’s Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon warned the government that its own legislation – the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 – risks embedding this antiquated and damaging practice even further, by failing to mandate that children should be cared for in an age-appropriate setting.

“Elsewhere in the report, the government failed to progress even relatively straightforward measures that could make a real difference to children’s lives. It received a ‘D-’ grade for failing to expand a very limited pilot programme to deliver free school books and a further ‘D’ for failing to evaluate four pilot education projects for Taveller and Roma children.

“Childhood is short and the government has limited time to intervene and make changes that materially improve children’s lives. This is particularly true for disadvantaged and vulnerable children, who rely on the State for support and whose families are most impacted by the escalating cost-of-living crisis. The government must stop failing these children and commit to implementing targeted measures that help these children reach their full potential.”

21 February, 2022


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