“Government is failing to deliver on its commitment to youth mental health”, says Children’s Rights Alliance
Government awarded ‘E’ grade in this area – the lowest grade of Report Card 2023
Today (28.02.2023), Children’s Rights Alliance publishes its annual Report Card 2023. Report Card 2023 is the third 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 2022. The Children’s Rights Alliance monitors 16 promises to children and young people and has rated the Government on its efforts in 2022.
Speaking to the latest Report Card analysis, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said:
“While there was significant progress made in some Government commitments made to children and young people, including Child Safety Online (A), Early Childhood Education and Care (B+) and Free School Books (B), the persistent lack of action and progress on commitments to some of the most marginalised and vulnerable children in the State has resulted in deepening inequalities.”
“Youth mental health receives the lowest grade in Report Card 2023 – ‘E’, for the second year in a row. The Maskey Report on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Kerry and the more recent Mental Health Commission Interim report have revealed what we now know to be the tip of the iceberg of serious failings in the provision of mental health services for children and young people. In September 2022, there were a staggering 4,100 children waiting on their first appointment with CAMHS, almost double the figure from the same period the previous year. The fact that very vulnerable children and young people have not been able to access an initial appointment is deeply concerning. On top of this, we continue to see children and young people admitted to adult psychiatric facilities to receive the care they should be receiving in an environment built and designed to support their needs. While the number of children being admitted to adult units decreased in 2022, regrettably, the practice is included in the General Scheme of the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2021. This is a retrograde step in the provision of mental health services to children and will result in legislation that will not meet the rights of children in their hour of need.”
“Representing one of the biggest drops in grades, in 2022, the Government was awarded a ‘D’ signifying a ‘barely acceptable performance, with little or no positive impact’ on their commitment to end direct provision. The external pressures and challenges in securing accommodation have slowed the implementation of the White Paper to end direct provision however, there has also been a concerning drop in the standards of accommodation in some emergency settings. Listening to the lived experience of young people in Direct Provision, it is clear that many feel like they are left in limbo. Waiting. Waiting for a home of their own, waiting for better food or cooking facilities, waiting for things to get better. These young people were, for the most part, forgotten in Budget 2023 as the Government failed to deliver any increase to the Direct Provision payment or introduce the International Payment promised in the White Paper. Going forward, Government must ensure that every effort is made to ensure that standards improve in this area.”
Other areas of concern:
Family Homelessness received a ‘D - ’ in Report Card 2023.
“Temporary measures were introduced that helped prevent families from becoming homeless. These were welcome small steps that contributed to the Government’s grade in this area. However, the reality of our housing and homelessness crisis requires giant leaps. In December 2022, there were 1,594 families and 3,442 children experiencing homelessness. There was an increase in the total number of people living in emergency accommodation every month of 2022. We are long past a crisis point in the level of child homelessness and without significant changes, there is a concern that the housing crisis will continue to deny more and more children of a decent childhood.”
The Government has made positive progress in the following areas:
- Child Safety Online (A Grade): Government’s work in 2022 on the commitment to better protect children and young people online was recognised with the highest grade. The new Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill was signed into law in December 2022. The legislation includes provisions for the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner and critically, an individual complaints mechanism, welcoming a new era of regulation and accountability for big tech and online services.
- Pathways for Undocumented Children (B+ Grade): January 2022 saw the commencement of the scheme to regularise the status of undocumented people living in Ireland. Over the course of a six-month period, 8,311 people applied for the scheme. The scheme marked an important breakthrough however, it was limited and more sustainable pathways for the regularisation of undocumented children must be brought forward.
- Reform of Early Childhood Education and Care (B+ Grade): There was clear progress in this area with the advancement of key recommendations with substantial action in areas of quality outcomes, supporting staff retention and reducing the costs for parents. Other significant developments include the investment of €1 billion in Budget 2023, five years ahead of schedule, moving Ireland forward when compared to other European countries who invest to sustain a public service model of early childhood education and care. However, further action is now needed to develop targeted supports for children experiencing disadvantage.
Tanya Ward concluded:
“This year’s Report Card shows that despite external challenges, significant progress can be made towards improving the lives of children and young people. The historic investment in early childhood education and care will transform the early years sector, ensuring quality across the service and addressing long-standing issues of affordability and accessibility. Likewise, in 2022 we saw one of the most ambitious actions from Government to date, with the announcement of free school books for every child in primary school. Particularly given the current cost of living crisis, the cost of going back to school can be a crippling concern for families. This measure will reach over half a million children and help lift an enormous weight off their families’ shoulders.”
“We need to see equally ambitious action and forward-thinking in other areas, particularly those focused on the most marginalised and most vulnerable young people in our society to close the widening gap of inequality that is becoming more apparent.”
Report Card 2023 is available on the Children’s Rights Alliance website here.
For more information/interviews contact:
Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 085 800 1275, or Emma at email@example.com or 087 997 1410
Notes to Editors:
Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for media interviews.
Panellists are also available for media interviews.
About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 140 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL. #ReportCard2023