The Children’s Rights Alliance has called on the Government to take immediate action to tackle family homelessness.
The group said there is a need to introduce more measures to tackle child and family homelessness, particularly in Traveler families, families with disabilities and people leaving Direct Provision.
In December 2021 there were 1,077 families experiencing homelessness and 2,451 homeless children.
By the end of the year, almost one in four children living in emergency accommodation in Dublin had been there for more than two years.
Publishing its Report Card 2022, Children’s Rights Alliance said that lessons learned from the pandemic must be a key focus this year.
The group’s latest report grades the Government on its progress towards achieving the commitments made to children and young people in its Program For Government.
Speaking at the report launch, Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “Over the past two years, children and young people have been forced to adapt to a different way of life, and now we are asking them to go back to the way things were before.
“During the pandemic, we saw a meaningful decrease in the numbers of families with children experiencing homelessness, yet in 2021 that number has started to creep back up again.
“There is a strong appetite now after the challenges of Covid-19 to change things for the better; we should be building on what worked well rather than simply returning to the way things were before.
“The Government’s emergency response to the pandemic in 2020 had a strong focus on preventive measures and resulted in fewer families in emergency accommodation.
“We can’t allow progress to reverse.
“While there was a welcome target of ending homelessness by 2030 and key measures in the Government’s new Housing For All Strategy, published in 2021, there is a need to introduce additional measures to step up efforts to tackle child and family homelessness, particularly for those who are disproportionately impacted including one-parent families, Traveler families, families with disabilities and people leaving Direct Provision.
“This is why the Government gets an ‘E’ grade in this area, down from a ‘C’ grade last year.”
Turning to mental health services, Mark Smyth, former president of the Psychological Society of Ireland, said there are a myriad of solutions that exist to address the “glaring gaps” in mental health services.
“Children and young people have a right to receive age-appropriate, safe healthcare, and the inexcusable fact that 25 young people were placed in adult wards in 2021 continues to be unacceptable,” Mr Smyth added.
“The Government must take immediate steps to end this practice rather than embed it in legislation like they are proposing to do.
“The pressures on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have been abundantly clear for many years and we are all very aware of the concerning issues that have recently come to light in South Kerry CAMHS.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.