Child Carers Abandoned by Government

Published date: 
4 Mar 2009

Press Statement by Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance

‘The Children’s Rights Alliance is gravely disappointed at the Government’s abandonment of the planned National Carers’ Strategy, committed to in the Social Partnership Towards 2016 Agreement and in the Coalition’s Programme for Government.  “Difficult decisions” must, of course, be made – but surely not at the expense of the most vulnerable?  At least 3,000 children act as carers, here in Ireland, and the planned strategy would have provided them with essential supports and access to services.  Strategies are not only for the good times.

Child carers are already denied the freedom to be a child and this strategy held a glimmer of hope that once and for all we would acknowledge and support these vulnerable children.  Child carers take on adult responsibilities on a daily basis.  Does this mean that we, as a society, are happy to accept that child carers can do without external support; that they do not need home help; that they are not entitled to some respite from their adult responsibilities?  Established support structures for child carers in Ireland are almost non-existent.  Glasgow, a city of just over half a million people, has 22 young carer co-ordinators.  Ireland has none.  

Child carers are defined as children under the age of 18 years, who are unpaid and the nature and extent of their caring responsibilities has a significant impact on their education, health, social and emotional life and longer-term life chances.  Some child carers may be as young as five years and may carry out tasks including: giving general care such as assisting with mobility and dispensing medication; performing a range of intimate care tasks, such as toileting and bathing; undertaking a range of domestic tasks and trying to provide emotional support.’

Notes to Editor:

  1. The Government is in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, by denying child carers the right to the highest attainable standard of health (Article 24), to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development (Article 27), the right to education (Article 28), and the right to rest, leisure, play and recreational activities (Article 31).
  2. The Alliance made a submission to the National Carers’ Strategy Consultation in April 2008, which can be found on our web site at

About us:

The Children’s Rights Alliance is a coalition of over 80 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working to secure the rights and needs of children in Ireland, by campaigning for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It aims to improve the lives of all children under 18, through securing the necessary changes in Ireland’s laws, policies and services.

Children's Rights Alliance