Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore has called on the Government to immediately bring together all stakeholders in areas such as childcare, education and child protection to ensure that the needs of vulnerable children and the children of essential workers are met during the current lockdown restrictions.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson for Children, said:

“It is vital that we prioritise our most vulnerable children as we face into the next difficult stage of this pandemic. We cannot continue to heap disadvantage upon children who already struggled during the lockdown and expect them to bear the burden of these new restrictions. Those children cannot be lost in this debate again.

“In coming up with a workable solution that can be implemented in a safe manner, the Government must draw from the invaluable experience of leaders in the community, disability, educational and child welfare sectors. It is not an impossible task but it will require listening to and addressing the concerns of all partners.

“It is unfortunate that yesterday’s Government announcement was made without prior consultation with key stakeholders in these areas – this needs to be rectified now.

“We must also support our essential workers to enable them to continue to protect our communities. They must be facilitated in doing their crucial work through the provision of safe childcare. There is currently no childcare being facilitated for school-age children and this is clearly not a workable solution for the many essential workers we are relying on.

“This is a most challenging time but I am confident that our public sector and communities will rise to it.”

January 7, 2021

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