1 in 7 kids in Ireland lost to homelessness, poverty and neglect, say Barnardos
One in seven children in Ireland are lost to homelessness, to poverty and to neglect, according to Barnardos.
The children's charity, which works with more than 15,000 families annually, revealed the shocking statistics as they launched the new Lost Childhood Campaign today.
They are hoping to get individuals, other organisations as well as the Government involved in tackling the injustice.
The charity proposed a range of solutions that - if they are implemented in the short-term - could change the the lives of children in Ireland.
The suggestions include...
- STARTING OFF AT HOME: Ensure all children have a good start in life by introducing a dedicated child and family public health nurse system with guaranteed home visits.
- QUALITY FAMILY TIME: Support all parents to be the best they can be through providing greater availability of timely community and public based family support services.
- DURING PRE-SCHOOL: Guarantee all children have access to quality early childhood care and education by extending the ECCE scheme for an additional year, opening it to all two year olds.
- GOING TO BIG-SCHOOL: Begin to fulfil every child’s right to free primary education by providing free school books to all primary school children.
- BEING HEALTHY TO GROW: Fulfil every child’s right to quality healthcare by providing fully staffed primary health care teams across the country at a ratio of 1 for every 1500 children.
- SOMEWHERE SUITABLE TO LIVE: Guarantee that no child spends more than 6 months in emergency accommodation and substantially increase the building of social housing to provide long-term solutions for children and family experiencing homelessness.
Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said:
“We are standing here today because enough is enough.
"You only need look at the thousands of children living in hotels or in overcrowded accommodation without the space they need to live, play and grow, the thousands more living in poverty, and those who are languishing on waiting lists for essential health services such as speech and language therapy and mental health services – to see that children and childhood are not a priority in Ireland.
"How is this ok? How do we as a country think this is ok?
“No child should worry about whether they will wake up in the same bed tomorrow as they did today. No child should feel unloved or uncared for.
"Where a child lives or the amount of money that their parents have should not determine a child’s access to health care, pre-school, education, or protection.
"Yet 1 in 7 children, that’s over 170,000 childhoods and futures, are being written for them through circumstances beyond their control, and because of poor policy making. We need to shine a light on the experiences of these children, highlighting this injustice at a national level and demand real solutions.
“For too long children have not been a priority politically, and childhood itself has not been valued as it should be – as the most important time of a person’s life. We as a society have a responsibility to ensure every child can reach their potential. We invite you to join a community of individuals, parents, local policy makers, charities and organisations to work together to draw a line in the sand and demand change for these children."
Hundreds of supporters have already signed up to join the charity, promising to fight of these children, challenge the Government to put into place short term practical steps - and most of all, make sure that kids are seen as the priority that they should be.
For more information, you can visit www.barnardos.ie/lost.