Barnardos Welcomes the Extension of Free Childcare to Homeless Children Outside of Dublin
Barnardos today welcomes Minister Zappone’s plans to extend a scheme which provides free childcare to children under five living in emergency accommodation. Currently the scheme is only available in the Dublin area, but it will now be available from Councils in Clare, Cork City, Cavan, Donegal, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Offaly, and Wicklow.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos said: “Barnardos welcomes the announcement that homeless children in a number of areas outside of Dublin will now be entitled to up to 25 hours of free childcare per week, to include a daily meal. Through our work with children and families living in wholly unsuitable accomodation, Barnardos sees the effects being homeless has on children. It affects every aspect of their development: mental and physical health, social and emotional development, their education, and their relationships with siblings and parents. Having access to quality early years’ experiences can help to protect these children from some of the adverse effects of living in emergency accommodation. Children, and especially those living in difficult situations, need to have access to stable and secure spaces where they can develop and thrive. The extension of this scheme is definitely a step in the right direction.”
“It is unfortunate though that the scheme will not be available nationwide to all children experiencing homelessness. We welcome the Minister’s wish to become operational in every part of the country, and strongly urge the Minister to continue her work to bring all council areas within the scheme.The latest figures show that there are now a record 2,546 children registered as homeless nationwide, and 1,239 families. These are the highest numbers ever recorded and are comprised of children and their families from all across Ireland.”