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Report Card 2022 is the second analysis of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party’s joint Programme for Government: Our Shared Future and how it performed for children in 2021. We have once again closely analysed 16 promises made to children and young people and have rated the Government on its efforts. As always, our independent panel of experts, chaired by Judge Catherine McGuinness graded the Government’s performance.
As with last year’s report, the backdrop for this year’s publication is Covid-19. The pandemic changed so much for children and young people again in 2021 – school closures, reduced availability of services and stoppages of those activities that make life normal like playdates, parties and piano. The current focus on the increased cost of living has further compounded the inequalities heightened by the pandemic’s effect and must be addressed.
2021 was far from a normal year and, to its credit, the Government made good progress in some areas. To reflect this, a ‘B’ grade was awarded on the commitment to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their children. There were three ‘B-’ grades for work to end the Direct Provision system, for reform of the childcare system and for the long-awaited guidelines on reduced timetables.
Things were less stellar at the other end of the spectrum with two ‘E’ grades awarded – the lowest in Report Card 2022. The first of these is given for the increase in the number of children and their families experiencing homelessness. The fact that there were nearly 300 more children and young people in emergency accommodation at the end of the 2021 compared to the beginning of that year, is deeply disappointing particularly given the positive actions taken in 2020 resulting in a fall in homeless families.
This year will mark the mid-term point of the Government’s term in office. It must seize the opportunities at hand and fulfil the promises it has made sooner rather than later. Our children and young people are relying on it.