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11 June 2020. Barnardos is today warning that closure of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will mean the State is yet again failing vulnerable children. The charity urges the parties negotiating the make-up of the next Government not to forget the State’s complicity in past child protection scandals and not let history repeat itself.
Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO said: “Subsuming the Department of Children and Youth Affairs into the Department of Education is a regressive step which will put children at risk. We must not forget the State’s poor history when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable children. Retaining a full seat at the cabinet table can ensure not just that their voices are heard, but that their needs and best interests can shape the policies which affect their lives.
“Systems do not care about children, people do. Vulnerable children need a defender and champion. From the Ryan Commission Report to recent reports of mistreatment of children in early years services, scandal after scandal shows how systems in Ireland have failed children. A Minister with a seat at cabinet is not only a vital champion and resource for children, they are also responsible for holding all of us accountable to protect children.”
Barnardos is deeply concerned about the how removing the Department of Children and Youth Affairs would affect the children we work with – children experiencing neglect, abuse, domestic violence, mental ill health, direct provision and homelessness. Tusla, as the key child protection agency, and all other organisations working to ensure children’s safety and wellbeing need a core Department to work under to best protect children.
“Barnardos’ vision for the future is that vulnerable children should have a voice, a defender and a champion in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. As we struggle to cope with the after effects of a global pandemic and face into a certain steep recession vulnerable children face a very uncertain future. Now is not the time to cut a Department that has the potential to protect these children, who are amongst the most vulnerable members of our society. Children need their voice and vulnerable children now more than ever.”