Barnardos Launches Pre-Budget Submission
Posted on Thursday 16 September 2021 in Press Releases
16 September 2021. Barnardos today launched its annual Pre-Budget Submission. The children’s charity calls for a Government focus on a number of measures to improve the lives of children and families in Ireland including; an increase of funding for family support services, reducing school costs, tackling waiting lists, a review and extension to government childcare schemes and providing additional funding to support children experiencing domestic violence and abuse.
Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said: “Families, parents and children across the country have faced a difficult 18 months, marked by huge disruption, great uncertainty and increased challenges and adversities. As we emerge from this pandemic Budget 2022 must be a signal of hope and opportunity to children and parents, demonstrating that the Government is going to provide families with the help and support they want and need to move forward. Barnardos believes the government should prioritise five issues if families are going to get the support and help they need to best protect their wellbeing and the positive development of children”.
Results from Barnardos Back to School Survey 2021 survey found that 52% of parents said that their families had experienced mental health difficulties over the past year, 50% reported tensions at home, 54% experienced financial concerns, 59% reported feeling isolated and 48% stated they lacked social support.
The Government must increase funding for family support services, without which the additional needs and demand for support will risk going unmet.
Half of parents were concerned about paying for school costs this September, with over one third saying that Covid-19 made it more difficult to meet those costs. Continuing to place financial burdens on families to meet these increasing school costs while many struggle to pay day-to-day bills and expenses is completely unjust and unjustifiable and jeopardises children’s engagement with education.
The Government must commit to reducing school costs, by providing free books, compelling schools to reduce uniform costs and ending voluntary contributions.
Children continue to wait far too long for health and development assessments and support, unfortunately often having significant repercussions on their development. 16,000 children are awaiting initial assessments for speech and language services, 3,500 waiting over 12 months. Unless addressed these waiting lists will likely increase due to the pandemic.
The Government needs to demonstrate a commitment to protecting children’s health and wellbeing and defending their right to treatment and care by setting clear targets for reducing waiting lists and providing the additional resources necessary to achieve this.
The existing childcare system is failing the most disadvantaged children in society. For example, school-aged children living in vulnerable circumstances are often further disadvantaged when they return to homes where there is minimal support and cramped, overcrowded environments not conducive to play and learning.
The Government must review the impact existing childcare schemes are having disadvantaged children and ensure they are entitled to free after school supported care, without which they risk being at a further disadvantage to their peers.
There were increased reports of domestic violence and abuse during lockdown. Barnardos witnesses first-hand the harmful impact domestic violence and abuse can have on all domains of a child’s life. However, through its vital work, children and families can be supported to keep safe and to heal from their experiences and achieve positive outcomes.
The Government must ensure, through the provision of additional funding, children who experience domestic violence and abuse have seamless access to support across prevention, early intervention, crisis and recovery.
Notes to Editor
Read our full pre-budget submission here.
Barnardos Back to School Survey 2021.
For further information, please contact:
Barnardos Media Office: 01 7080442 / 086 0445966
Trudy McCarthy; 01 7080423
Visit Barnardos Media Centre www.barnardos.ie/media