Budget 2017 – Education Announcements will have Negligible Impact on Education Disadvantage
An additional €37m funding for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is welcomed and must be directed towards frontline services, said Barnardos today. However the children’s charity added that disappointingly, Budget 2017 decisions regarding education will do little to assist low income families struggling to meet school costs or tackle educational disadvantage.
June Tinsley, Barnardos Head of Advocacy, said, “Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, provides essential frontline services to vulnerable children and must be sufficiently funded to do so. A key focus of its extra funding must be on investing in family support services and other prevention and early intervention measures. As today’s Growing Up in Ireland report findings demonstrate, a child’s future prospects are mainly shaped by family circumstances. Early intervention in a child’s life is too much of a determinant of future prospects to ignore and spending in this area must be prioritised by Tusla.”
Ms Tinsley added, “In his Budget commentary yesterday the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Pascal Donohoe, said ‘education is the lynchpin for ongoing economic success’ but this is not reflected in education investment decisions announced yesterday. Barnardos is clear: we must create a level playing field by ensuring a genuinely free primary education system, which costs just €103m per year.
“There was no funding available for school books or an increase in the capitation paid to schools, despite indications in the Department of Education’s Action Plan. No change means the viability of current school book rental schemes are jeopardised, parents will continue to pay high costs for their child’s school books and schools will continue to be forced to make up the shortfall in funding by targeting parents for fundraising and levying hefty ‘voluntary contributions’.”
Ms Tinsley concluded, “Beyond the significant investment in subsidised childcare services, the finer details of Budget 2017 reveal considerable incoherence in the Government’s much flaunted intention to create a Fairer Ireland for children. There are too many missing pieces to imagine how Budget 2017 decisions will substantially decrease child poverty.”