Ireland to ‘step up’ attention on child poverty in line with EU agenda


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The government will develop an action plan to support a new European Child Guarantee to ensure that every child has access to healthcare, education, childcare, adequate nutrition and a Decent housing.

At a conference today organized by the Children’s Rights Alliance, Junior Minister Joe O’Brien, whose department is involved in social inclusion, said the EU initiative will “increase” attention government on child poverty.

The EU guarantee will require member states to provide free and efficient access to early childhood education and care, education and school activities, at least one healthy meal per school day , health care, as well as effective access to healthy food and adequate housing.

Once the final text of the new EU-wide commitment is approved by July, EU members will develop an action plan to start implementing the guarantee from 2022. The initiative will be supported by 5.9 billion euros under the European Social Fund Plus.

Above average

While child poverty rates in Ireland fell by 4% between 2013 and 2018, levels increased in 2019 to reach 8.1% of children living in constant poverty and remain above the EU average. EU, said Minister O’Brien.

“Obviously, this is not enough. The government is fully aware that significant improvements still need to be made and we must redouble and refocus our efforts if we are to further reduce child poverty, especially in light of the repercussions of the pandemic, ”said Mr. O’Brien. , adding that the number of children experiencing homelessness and a new report on the living conditions of Travelers’ children this week proved that children were failing.

The government, said O’Brien, is already taking steps to prepare for the European Child Guarantee and the Children’s Department is setting up a “European and international unit” to coordinate actions.

“The European Child Guarantee offers Ireland a real opportunity to refocus and, if necessary, reassess our approach to tackling child poverty and promoting child well-being,” said Mr O ‘ Brien.

The Children’s Guarantee will help Ireland refine its response and frameworks so that all children can grow up with the same opportunities and have access to quality support services that will allow them to thrive in society and in a post-world world. pandemic.

While the EU initiative receives strong support from all member states, some countries are pushing for changes to “tone down” the proposal, warned Jana Hainsworth of Eurochild.

“One of the main ambitions of this initiative is to ensure free and efficient access to early childhood education and care, education and health care, which is currently under threat,” said Ms. Hainsworth.

“We know that a number of Member States say they are affordable instead of free and effective and for us that undermines the very essence of the guarantee,” she added.

Alliance for the Rights of the Child vice-chair Ciarin de Buis said urgent action was needed on child poverty rates: “We cannot continue as it is in Ireland or throughout Europe. It is shameful how many children are living in poverty and we need to tackle this problem now. “

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