Every year Barnardos makes recommendations to the Government as to how public funds could be best spent to support children. Barnardos believes that there should be a combination of increased availability of quality public services and sufficient household income.
Barnardos Children’s Budget 2021 sets out a number of recommendations summarised below;
Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Begin the expansion of family support services outlined in the Programme for Government in 2021 covering the full costs for current and new service provision. This should be provided through multi-annual funding over the lifetime of the Government and include restoration of the annual cost of living increase for service providers in the Community and Voluntary Sector and provide funding for pilot/innovative work.
Recommendation 2: Building on plans contained in the First 5: Government Strategy for Babies and Young Children, develop a targeted universalism approach to the funding of proven parenting programmes providing a suite of approaches which cater to the varying level of need.
Recommendation 3: Guarantee all children and families seeking international protection in Ireland receive a family support service for the duration of their application process and for those granted leave to remain as they transition out of State reception and integration services. Include those successful in their application for family reunification under Section 56 and 57 of the International Protection Act 2015 and extend these supports for the first year of the family’s reunification in Ireland, paying particular attention to supporting young refugee sponsors.
Recommendation 4: Implement the Sláinte care Report recommendation for universal primary care, giving children access to multidisciplinary primary care services in the community comprising GPs, nurses, physiotherapists, speech and language, social workers, occupational therapists and family support workers.
Recommendation 5: Reduce unsustainable waiting lists by triaging children with lower levels of need to receive the appropriate support services within the community. Develop a referral pathway for children with additional needs due to developmental delay, behavioural, social and emotional needs or disability facilitating them being triaged in the community the Government could free up much needed health resources in areas such as speech and language and mental health.
Recommendation 6: Poverty proof social welfare rates by benchmarking directly against Minimum Essential Standard of Living rates (MESL), ensuring payment increases are related to the real costs of adequate standards of living. Set a target of full income adequacy across all social protection payments over three consecutive Budgets.39
Recommendation 7: Increase the Qualified Child Increase for older children by €10 and for younger children by €3 per week.
Recommendation 8: Increase the daily expenses allowance for children living in Direct Provision to the rates of the Qualified Child Increase (QCI).
Recommendation 9: Increase the Fuel Allowance to €25.30 and restore the payment season to 32 weeks so that the value of the payment is restored to 2010 levels and is in line with current energy costs. Expand eligibility to the Fuel Allowance to households in receipt of the Working Family Payment and remove the waiting period for those in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance.
Recommendation 10: Equalise the income thresholds for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance for one and two-parent households and introduce ‘tapering’ for the BSCFA to provide greater access to support with school costs for working poor households and to reduce poverty traps.
Recommendation 11: To ensure equality between different household types and increase the income of one parent families in work, reduce the
Working Family Payment weekly work threshold from 19 hours to 15 hours for one parent families.
Recommendation 12: Ring fence funding to provide additional Child and Family Support workers so that every child experiencing homelessness can access support. These Child and Family Support workers can be based in existing organisations to avoid the need for additional infrastructure.
Recommendation 13: Formally link schools with services providing family support services and provide principals and teachers access to trauma informed CPD, wellbeing training and other resources to enable them to cope with children returning to school after restrictions, the on-going impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health and wellbeing and to manage an increase in child protection and welfare issues arising.
Recommendation 14: The Department of Education should build on the pilot free school book scheme by investing a further €5m in this initiative. The second tranche of funding must target those experiencing disadvantage in non-DEIS schools.
Recommendation 15: Budget 2021 should also commit to a roadmap of funding that will ensure that all children will receive free books by September 2023.
Recommendation 16: Increase capitation fees by 10 per cent in order to begin to offset the need for voluntary contributions. Commit to restoring capitation to 2010 levels, allowing for inflation, by 2023.
Recommendation 17: Allocate funding to establish a Small Grants Scheme to improve school infrastructure to ensure appropriate facilities for school food provision.
Recommendation 18: Invest in training and support for school staff to facilitate them establishing a successful school food programme. Cost €0.5m
Recommendation 19: Ensure plans for all new school builds include provision for dining and catering facilities.
Recommendation 20: Develop a Court Welfare Service as part of the creation of a dedicated Family Court. Phased investment should begin in Budget 2021, with full investment spread out over five successive Budgets. This service to include a national system of Child Contact Centres; a system for the statutory assessment and management of child maintenance payments; the management and resourcing of necessary court assessments in relation to children and parents; a range of ancillary family support services including parenting courses, counselling, mediation, and mentoring; and expert training for all relevant staff and stakeholders.
Here is our Analysis of the Budget 2021
In March 2019, Barnardos commissioned Just Economics to undertake research on why investment is needed now to ensure the sustainability of quality services for children and families.
Read our Submission to Budget 2021
Read our Analysis of Budget 2021
Read the Just Economics Report on why investment is needed now to ensure the sustainability of quality services for children and families