Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2014: System Change Started But Many Children Still Out In the Cold
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The Children’s Rights Alliance today published the sixth in their annual series of Report Cards. The Report Card grades Government’s performance on issues and policies affecting children against their own stated commitments in the Programme for Government 2011-2016.
The Government receives an overall C grade this year, reflecting a satisfactory attempt to date, but with scope for significant improvement.
Report Card 2014 rewards the Government with ‘B’ grades in the areas of children’s constitutional rights, education and protection from abuse and neglect. However, on health, adequate standard of living and equality, the Government is failing children.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said, “The Programme for Government is ambitious for children. Minister Fitzgerald, along with her cabinet colleagues, have helped advance the cause of children’s rights. There is no doubt that a full Cabinet position for children and young people is having a positive impact.
We have singled out Education for praise due to advancements in literacy, school buildings and progress on patronage and pluralism in primary schools. We also acknowledge headway with the newly established Child and Family Agency, ending the detention of children in St. Patrick’s institution and the construction of a new facility for young offenders at Oberstown.”
Professor Áine Hyland of UCC said, “Ireland ranks 4th for literacy, 9th in science and 13th in maths of the 32 OECD countries. The Government’s commitment to make literacy a national cause is clearly bearing fruit.”
Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos said, “Notwithstanding this progress, we still see certain children being side-lined by the system or entirely ignored.
Child poverty remains unacceptably high – 9.3% of children currently live in consistent poverty and 18.8% are at risk. Tackling poverty is a whole-of-government issue and is something that needs to be prioritised in order to see progress next year.”
Judge Catherine McGuinness said, “Infant mortality rates for Traveller children are 3.6 times that of the general population. We are in danger of leaving Traveller children behind unless we include specific commitments in national policy.
More than 10% of our school-going children come from a migrant background; the policy of Direct Provision for asylum seekers and their children is detrimental to their welfare and development and should be ceased immediately.
The Government has also broken its own promises regarding mental health, with €35 million in ring-fenced funding now standing at only €20 million.”
“Overall we see that systemic change has begun, but that those categories of children who have no voice within the system continue to be marginalised. They deserve better. We look forward to an established Child and Family Agency, Children First legislation and the new Children and Family Relationships Bill and hope 2014 will be the best year yet for children and young people in Ireland”, concluded Ms Ward.
> Download the Report (PDF)