50% of commitments to children are seriously behind schedule according to the Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2009, launched today in European Union House, Dublin, on the day dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ owing to terrible weather, unpaid bills and the recession. Report Card 2009, which is an annual audit of the Government’s own commitments to children, has awarded the Government grades in four key areas:
Material wellbeing C-
Safeguarding childhood C
Within Health and Education, the Government received its worst grade – an ‘E’ grade – in two sub-sections, namely Mental Health and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), for an unacceptable performance that takes steps in the wrong direction, with no positive impact on children. The Government received its best grade in the sub-sections of Financial Support to Families and Play, which were given a ‘B-‘ and ‘B’ respectively. All commitments are taken from key Government documents, such as Towards 2016 and the current Programme for Government.
Jillian van Turnhout, Alliance Chief Executive, said: “This Report shows that the Government is failing to honour its promises to children, particularly in the areas of Health and Education. On Blue Monday, the day that we are all supposedly at our unhappiest, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America could not be more timely. We need to believe in the future, and our future is our children. Obama understands this and has emphasised his interest – despite the global recession – in making strategic investments in children’s services, such as Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE), stating: ‘We'll invest in early childhood education programs so that our kids don't begin the race of life behind the starting line’. Unfortunately, our Government’s commitment to ECCE stops at empty promises. Our Government chooses to abandon its promise to roll out ECCE to areas of acute social and economic disadvantage, despite NESF analysis that for every €1 invested in ECCE a return of up to €7.10 can be expected.
Ireland has good policy commitments to children but on the whole they are not being honoured. Failing in 50% of its own commitments is unacceptable. Unfortunately, there is a lack of accountability to commitments and, it appears, a lack of concern when commitments are not honoured. Monitoring and evaluation processes are often lacking and there is a failure among Government departments and agencies to work together to achieve common aims. When you make promises to children, you need to keep them, or you store up more problems down the line – every good parent knows that.”
The Alliance will repeat this audit annually: the Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2009 provides a snapshot of childhood in today’s Ireland, exposing the deepening of a two-tiered society that ignores Ireland’s most vulnerable children. With the current financial climate as it stands, and cuts in public services imminent, the Alliance calls on the Government to honour its promises to children and prioritise these commitments immediately.
The full report and an executive summary are available on the Alliance web site at: www.childrensrights.ie
For further information and interview bids, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400 / 087 7702845; Fax: (01) 662 9355
Notes to Editor:
- Education (incl. early childhood care and education; child literacy; children with SEN; early school leaving); Material Wellbeing (incl. financial support to families; access to education, healthcare and housing); Health (incl. primary care; mental health; childhood obesity); and Safeguarding Childhood (incl. play; school buildings; alcohol; and sexual health and relationships).Alliance research is based on commitments taken from three key Government documents, namely: the National Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016; the Programme for Government 2007-2012; and the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016.
- The external panel comprised Honourable Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission; Fintan O’Toole, Columnist at The Irish Times; Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant Secretary General of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; Sheila Greene, Director of the Children’s Research Centre at Trinity College; and Finola McDonnell, Senior Policy Executive of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, assessed the Alliance’s research and grades.
- Speakers at the launch include Chief Executive Jillian van Turnhout; Chairperson Dr Noirin Hayes; and the Honourable Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission.
- A full comprehensive list of grades will be announced at the launch in European Union House.
- Press packs, with an executive summary will be available at the launch, together with a list of possible case-studies.