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Policy issues concerning Children

Investment in Children and Families is an essential investment in our social and human capital now and into the future. Our Budget 2020 submission contains a number of costed proposals in this area.

In 2017, the Government introduced Family Hubs as an alternative to hotels and B&Bs and described as a “first step” for families experiencing homelessness.  Later that year, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) warned of the risks associated with Family Hubs, of institutionalising families and normalising family homelessness.  This warning was ignored, with Minister Murphy urging local authorities to build more rapid build Family Hubs at the Second Housing Summit in January 2018, and increased funding for Family Hubs provided in Budget 2019. 

A report published by the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) this week (18 April 2019) shows just how prescient IHREC’s warnings were, as children as young as 10 describe their living conditions as being “like a prison”.

In our Poverty Focus published this week, Social Justice Ireland looked at the impact of poverty, in particular child and family poverty.  Over 230,000 children are living at risk of poverty in Ireland today.  Studies undertaken since the mid-1990s indicate that the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) has a direct relationship on the causes of death and chronic health issues in adults, with some evidence suggesting it alters a child’s DNA if not addressed in time.  While child poverty is not of itself an ACE, there is a correlation between poverty and ACEs which, if ignored, can affect a child’s whole life.

Living in poverty is a reality for one in five children in Ireland.  This means that around 230,000 children in Ireland are living in families with incomes below the poverty line.  This is one of the main findings from Poverty Focus 2019.  How long more can we afford to ignore these children and their living standards?  This issue can be addressed effectively.  Child poverty can be eliminated.

Homelessness influences every facet of a child’s life from conception to young adulthood and the experience of homelessness inhibits the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioural development of children.

On the centenary of the first meeting of Dáil Éireann, it is time to reflect on the commitment made by the Irish Government to the children of Ireland.

Social Justice Ireland strongly welcomes Minister Regina Doherty’s comments this week, saying she believes in the universality of child benefit payments. Child benefit is an important acknowledgement of the fact that raising children is an economically and socially necessary job.

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in society.  Over 213,000 children in Ireland are at risk of poverty and over 414,000 of all children in Ireland are experiencing deprivation.  A further very concerning trend that has emerged in Ireland is the significant increase in the number of young people aged 18-24 who are at risk of poverty.  Since 2008 this figure has increased by 13 percentage points.

A new study shows that multiples of the national minimum wage are required if many households with children are to afford the full cost of formal childcare and simultaneously provide a Minimum Essential Standard of Living,.

Tackling poverty and income inequality effectively is a multifaceted task. It requires action on many fronts, ranging from healthcare and education to accommodation and employment. However, the most important requirement in tackling poverty is the provision of sufficient income to enable people to live life with dignity.  This forms a core element of Social Justice Ireland’s Policy Framework for a Just Ireland.

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