Budget 2018 Must Prioritise Families in Order to Protect Children
In launching its annual Pre Budget Submission, Barnardos is urging the Government to invest in services that would support and empower families to protect and encourage children’s development. This approach would lead to an improvement in many children’s lives and help tackle Ireland’s unacceptably high child poverty rates.
Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos, said, “Proactively supporting parents by ensuring quality services are available when needed is central to unlocking a child’s potential. Yet too often we see children whose lives are already written for them because of where they live or their family household income. These families are suffering in different ways because policy makers continue to turn a blind eye to their plight despite knowing that investing in preventative and supportive services reaps dividends for the child, family, community and exchequer.
“Budget 2018 can change this by:
- Allocating an additional 20 million to Tusla's budget, on the basis that it is ring-fenced exclusively for preventative work. This would enable them to pump-prime the development of wraparound services within the community for children in the care system, or at risk of going into care, to enable those children to remain with their families (or to come home to their families) on the basis that holistic, timely, proportional and accessible supports existed for them.
- Committing €54m annually for the next five years to clear waiting lists that prevent children from accessing vital health assessments and treatments. A total investment of €268m would see the recruitment of an extra 917 speech and language therapists, 934 occupational therapists, 1,019 physiotherapists and 1,015 child psychologists.
- Introducing genuinely free primary education at the cost of €103.2m per annum. This is only an extra yearly cost-per-pupil of just €185. This would provide all textbooks and workbooks, remove the need to pay for classroom resources and voluntary contributions, provide free transport for those availing of the School Transport Scheme and restore capitation rates back to 2010 levels.
- Building more social housing units to increase supply and reduce the over reliance on the private rented sector. Keep Rent Supplement rates and Housing Assistance Payments in line with market rents to prevent more families becoming homeless.
- Continuing investment in early childhood care and education but with particular focus on improving quality in services by raising capitation rates, supporting trained staff and including childminders.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy added “With every new-born baby comes hope and endless possibilities that should be treasured and harnessed as they grow. Through supporting their parents and guaranteeing quality public services when needed we enable children and young people to write their own future and not be constrained by where they live or life circumstances.”