Barnardos: The lives of children hang in the balance

Longford Barnardos Ireland

Barnardos is urging Government to invest in children’s services in Budget 2018.

In advance of the budget, Barnardos has launched a campaign urging the Government to invest in services that would protect and encourage children’s development and potential – a key step in tackling Ireland’s extremely high child poverty rates.

Barnardos CEO, Fergus Finlay said: “Children are being profoundly and negatively affected by many of the challenges currently facing our society – one in nine children live in consistent poverty, over 3,000 children are currently homeless, thousands of children endure excessively long waits for medical assessment and treatment.

"We know that these challenges and barriers in early years massively impact a child’s development and potential in life. The Government must ensure quality services are available when and where they are needed – the lives of children hang in the balance.

“Budget 2018 can protect and encourage children’s development by:

* Allocating an additional €20 million to Tusla's budget, on the basis that it is ring-fenced exclusively for preventative work. This would enable children within the care system or at risk of going into care, to remain with their families (or to come home to their families) on the basis that holistic, timely, proportional and accessible supports would be available for them.

* Investing in the building of social and affordable housing and committing to keep Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment rates in line with market rents to prevent more families becoming homeless.

 * Investing in early childhood care and education with a focus on improving quality and access of services to ensure Ireland reaches the target of spending 1% GDP on early years within a five year timeframe.

* Committing €54m annually for the next five years to clear waiting lists, ensuring children have access to vital health assessments and treatments.

* Increasing the education budget by 1.1% (€103.2m) to guarantee truly free primary education. At a minimum, this year commit €20m to ensure free school books for all primary school pupils.

Head of Advocacy, June Tinsley added: “Many children in Ireland start out in life with their development hampered and their potential already limited because of where they live, their household income or other life circumstances. Tragically, this is preventable. Having proper supports in place can mean the difference between poverty and stability, a safe home or homelessness, health and development or illness and delay.

"Through supporting parents and guaranteeing quality public services, we can enable children and young people to write their own future and fulfil their potential. Budget 2018 must commit to protecting children; ensuring supports are in place to give every child the opportunity to thrive.”

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