Today in Dublin a group of leading national charities has said that time is running out for the Government to deliver on its 2020 child poverty commitments. Barnardos, St Vincent de Paul, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Early Childhood Ireland and One Family have come together to remind Government about commitments made in the national strategy for children and young people: Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020 and to offer advice on key actions that must be taken now.
Caroline Fahey, SVP Head of Social Justice said, “Almost 4,000 children in Ireland are homeless, with many others living in insecure, poor quality and overcrowded accommodation due to the high cost of rents and the shortage of social housing. Increasing the supply of housing provided by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies would offer families the security of an affordable long-term home, protecting children from the risk of homelessness and allowing families to plan for the future.”
Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said, “It is crucial that Government targets supports to Ireland’s poorest children who are primarily living in one-parent families. The way to combat this is with targeted supports such as the full restoration of the income disregard for lone parents in receipt of social welfare payments to what they were before cuts in Budget 2012 and to target the poorest children by increasing the portion of a social welfare payment for children again in this budget.”
June Tinsley, Barnardos Head of Advocacy said "Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and enabling children to reach their potential. Budget 2019 must see significant investment in our education system so all children can fully participate, without schools being forced to ask parents for funds and parents aren't continuously overburdened by school costs which disproportionately affect children from low income families".
Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland “Access to quality early childhood education and care is tremendously beneficial for all children, yet some very vulnerable children are at risk of missing out on this opportunity due to proposed rules. It is imperative that these children are not left behind in Budget 2019. We call on Government to put in place a mechanism to identify these vulnerable children, and to allocate robust funding for targeted subsidies to safeguard both their rights and those of their families.”
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said: "We know that children are going to bed hungry and that 25% of children under eight years old are overweight or obese. This is a public health crisis. We need to see leadership from the highest levels of Government to ensure that nutritious meals are made available and easily accessible for children living in poverty particularly those suffering with chronic health issues and struggling to concentrate in school.”
She continued, “Healthcare can be hugely expensive for families living on low incomes. The income thresholds for the Medical Card have not been revised since 2005, leaving many children and families unable to access healthcare. With access to free GP cards now a long term objective for the Government, it is crucial that we consider other measures to provide adequate healthcare to the families.”