Wednesday 2 September 2010: For immediate release
By Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive
“The Children’s Rights Alliance has today had sight of the eagerly awaited ‘First Progress Report’ on the Government’s Ryan Report Implementation Plan, which was recently published on the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs web site. Our initial reading of the ‘First Progress Report’ has reinforced our intention to conduct a thorough analysis of the Government’s progress in the first year of the Ryan Report Implementation Plan and its 99 actions. This ‘First Progress Report’ is further evidence of the need for an independent or NGO presence on the Implementation Review Group.
“The ‘First Progress Report’ contains a number of positives, which should be applauded. These include:
- commencement of a consultation project with children in a range of care settings;
- progress towards ensuring equity of care for separated children;
- the secondment of a specialist to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA) in the area of child welfare and protection;
- the establishment by the HSE of a group to drive forward implementation and compliance with the Children First Guidelines; and
- the intention of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to extend the remit of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to the area of child protection.
"However, this ‘First Progress Report’ fails to provide us with any real transparency or accountability on the level of progress achieved. In key areas, there is little evidence that demonstrates progress, which you would rightly expect one year on. As a result, the Alliance, with regret, is disappointed with the ‘First Progress Report’ on the Government’s Ryan Report Implementation Plan. Negative aspects of the Report include:
- NO financial information on how the €15m from Budget 2010 has been spent to progress the Implementation Plan
- NO update on the crucial commitment to recruit 200 additional social workers in 2010. The HSE set an interim target of 50 new social workers by the end of June 2010, but it is unclear whether this has actually happened.
- NO sight of the long awaited legislation to place Children First Guidelines on a statutory footing, which is to be completed by December 2010. In fact, a further obstacle has been listed. With only four months until Christmas, we are deeply concerned by the slow pace adopted in implementing this commitment.
- NO update on proposed legislation to secure strong child protection procedures relating to vetting and soft information.
- NO review of the State’s response to homeless children – this should have been completed by December 2009.
- NO mechanism to track whether there has been any improvement of services for children in care and those in need of aftercare.
“It appears that Government has already started to move the goal posts in relation to some of its 99 commitments; and doing so at this early stage does not bode well for what is, essentially, an excellent implementation plan by Government.
“Having graded Government a very respectable ‘B grade’ for its Ryan Report Implementation Plan, in Report Card 2010, we were very hopeful that, this time, things would be different, that this Implementation Plan would break the mould, and really make a difference to children’s lives. What we have again is Government saying all the right things, but not backing it up with the goods. Words are cheap. Action is priceless.”
Jillian van Turnhout