Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ireland fails its children

In 2008, 6.8 per cent of Irish children were living in consistent poverty, assessed in terms of both low income and their household’s access to basic resources such as warm clothes and high protein meals.
In  2013, that figure had almost doubled to 11.7 per cent and 138,000 children were living in consistent poverty.

In 2013 Eurostat reported that Ireland ranked 23rd out of 27 EU countries in tackling child poverty.
In 2014 UNICEF placed Ireland 37th out of 41 developed countries in the protection of children from poverty.

The Economic and Social Research Institute and Trinity College Dublin tracked almost 20,000 children over a decade and some of its results, brought together in the book ‘Cherishing All the Children Equally?’ The report investigates if the 1916 Proclamation of Independence's resolution to "...cherish all of the children of the nation equally", has been realised 100 years on from the Easter Rising.

Children born to mothers in the lowest income group are 42 per cent more likely to be born under-average weight compared to those in the highest income group. By the age of nine months, those children are already visibly different and by the age of three they are shorter in stature and more likely to be overweight and obese.

77 per cent of the teachers reported that the number of children coming to school hungry had increased in the previous year.

Children in one-parent families are twice as likely to live in poverty.

There are now more than 2,000 homeless children living in temporary accommodation that is entirely unsuitable.

10 per cent of Traveller children die before the age of two compared to one per cent in the general population.

The ESRI report noted: "State investment in early care and education for children aged three and under...has been very, very low. The private sector dominates the market and costs to most parents are very expensive… Class differences in access to care and education are marked in the early years in Ireland, partly linked to the relatively high cost of childcare for parents.”

ESRI’s Prof James Williams explained, “The book presents evidence concluding that we have not lived up to the Proclamation’s resolution to cherish all of the children of the nation equally.”

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