Social Democrats Spokesperson for Children Jennifer Whitmore has reiterated her call for the retention of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The call comes amid repeated suggestions in the media that the existing Department should merge with the Department of Education and a separate new Department for Higher Education be formed instead.  Whitmore says that “we need the Department of Children to provide early intervention in childhood required to address disadvantage later on in life.

Deputy Whitmore says…

“I am very concerned to hear repeated calls in the media for the disbandment of the Department of Children. Such a move would be a very regressive step and will have a severe impact on children and their chances in life, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. It would place additional barriers for children in accessing health, education, childcare and housing as well as initiatives aimed at tackling child poverty and disadvantage.

“Such a move would have a very damaging impact on the progress made to date by the Department. 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.

“Any suggestion that a merger with the Department of Education could tackle inequalities in education is misleading. Educational disadvantage starts at the beginning of a child’s life. The focus must be on early intervention policies which aim to dismantle the barriers facing children that lead to inequality and educational disadvantage. A Department dedicated to Children is the correct place to implement and oversee initiatives to tackle these pressing issues.

“There is significant scope for the Department to build on the progress they have made to date. It is by further strengthening and resourcing of this separate Department with new and more intensive early interventions that child poverty and disadvantage can be tackled.

“Abandoning the Department of Children now will also mean abandoning much of the progress made, and risks abandoning children to continuing disadvantage and inequality.”

10th June 2020

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