Time to Turn Aspiration into Action for Vulnerable Children in 2017

03 Jan 2017 in Press Releases, Advocacy, Featured

Demand for Barnardos’ services increased again in 2016, the organisation revealed today. According to preliminary figures, the children’s charity supported more than 12,304 children and families in the first nine months of 2016 compared with 11,718 the first nine months in 2015.

Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos, said, “Every year Barnardos works with hundreds of families facing all manner of challenges and we worked with more families and children than ever in 2016. Among the top needs of the children with whom Barnardos worked in 2016 were support for improving family relationships, their own social-emotional development and for enhancing their health and education. It is clear to us the economic recovery isn’t being felt by all as we are supporting parents who are under huge strain to meet the needs of their children because of the absence of appropriate quality public services.

“We are a third of the way into the Government’s flagship policy framework for young people, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures 2014-2020 but its impact is not being felt. In fact its intention to lift 70,000 children out of poverty by 2020 has had to be altered upwards to 96,000 in light of the greater number of children living in consistent poverty. 

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos, said, “This framework rightly acknowledges the holistic nature of children’s lives and has many laudable recommendations spanning the different areas of children’s lives. For instance it pledges to improving support for families, something Barnardos sees from its work as an absolute priority. Intelligent investment in this area would reap huge benefits for countless families, as well as proving cost-effective, as it would negate the need for crisis intervention at a later stage.

“It is a challenging time for thousands of families in Ireland today. While we were encouraged by some steps taken in Budget 2017 to deliver affordable childcare for all, with a focus on low income families, many children’s public services are under-resourced or absent. It is crucial that 2017 sees quicker implementation of the varied recommendations of the Government’s own framework so that children can achieve Better Outcomes and experience Brighter Futures.”

ENDS

Note to Editors

This is just one example of the struggles a family faces. Barnardos worked with Mark and Niamh during 2016. They told us about their experiences and gave some insight into potential solutions:

Housing

“There’s nine of us in the house plus a baby in a three bedroom house but the corporation told us we’d be years waiting for less overcrowded accommodation.

“All the housing lost in the banking crisis- think of what that could do for all the people becoming homeless.”

Education

“Free education is a must-education is meant to be free and it’s not that way at all. It’s costing us €2,000 to send our kids back to school. Kids are sent back to school without school books because the parents don’t have the money. The kids are getting embarrassed and it’s turning them off going to school.

“We have six kids going to school. The eldest is in fifth year and his books are €400. He was afraid to go to school today because he hadn’t got his school books because we can’t afford them. We just haven’t got the money at the moment. If he gets turned off school he’ll get turned off work because it’s a bad experience for him.

“(Not being able to afford school books)… not only embarrasses the kids but also the parents.

“We’ve two kids in secondary and their books are €350 each. I went to principal and said at the moment I can’t pay for the books. They wanted me to pay €70 per week. I haven’t got €70 per week. I said I’d pay €20 per week. They agreed but said the kids can’t have the books until the money is paid. They give them sheet work until their books are paid for. They said it’s all down to the Government.

Early Intervention

“You have to catch kids at an early age. Our child was diagnosed at an early age but our niece was 14 by the time they diagnosed her and she wouldn’t go back to school. I was diagnosed as an adult just recently. School failed me, the teacher never taught me. The school system is still letting an awful lot of people down.

“If they catch a kid early and they get him into employment then they’re not spending big money to keep him in prison when he’s 17 or 18. It’s a revolving door. It doesn’t just start at 17 or 18 it starts much earlier.”

Childcare

“We need free childcare. Get everyone out doing something. It would be good for their health and their mental health instead of sitting round the house.

“We need more childcare to get mothers out and fathers too.”

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