We all want our children to grow up with every opportunity to reach their full potential. The next Programme for Government is the new Government’s chance to deliver the change that is needed to transform the lives of children and families across the country. Our vision is to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child, but we need ambitious thinking and cross-government commitment in order to achieve this.
We are calling on our political parties as they negotiate the next Programme for Government to put Children First.
Retain the Department of Children and Youth Affairs
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs was established in 2011 and was retained under a Programme for a Partnership Government. The mission of the Department is to lead the effort to improve the outcomes for children and young people in Ireland up to the age of 24 years. We are calling on the next Government to retain the Department of Children and Youth Affairs because we believe that it is essential that children and young people have a place at the Cabinet table and a Minister dedicated to improving their outcomes.
Update 5 May 2020: Sixty children and youth organisations come together to call for the retention of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in the next Government. Read the letter here.
We are calling on our political parties as they negotiate the next Programme for Government to put Children First. Here's how:
1. Make Ending Child Poverty a National Priority in next Children and Young People’s Strategy
Programme for Government Ask: Make ending child poverty the primary focus of the next National Children and Young People’s Strategy and establish a dedicated implementation team and budget.
2. Universal School Meals
Programme for Government Ask: Ensure that all children have access to a hot nutritious meal every day in educational settings by expanding the School Meals Programme nationally.
3. Decent Housing for Every Child
End the child and family homelessness crisis
Programme for Government Ask: Invest in a major public housing programme and introduce a Child and Family Homelessness Strategy that includes strict limits on the length of time children and families spend in inappropriate accommodation.
Transform the lives of children seeking international protection
Programme for Government Asks:
• Transform the lives of children seeking international protection by providing own door accommodation and developing alternatives to Direct Provision.
• Make HIQA the inspection body for refugee accommodation to ensure it meets the new National Standards.
4. Establish a Dedicated a Child Health Workforce
Programme for Government Ask: Invest in creating a dedicated public health nurse service for children and develop a home visiting strategy to ensure every child has access to prevention and early intervention supports they deserve in their own community.
5. Invest in Early Years
Programme for Government Asks:
• Improve quality in universal early childhood education and care by introducing a programme that supports early years’ professionals obtaining a qualification and establish a system to monitor the quality and consistency of professional qualifications.
• Make quality childcare affordable for parents by increasing investment and introducing price caps on fees. Make childcare free for lone parents and families on low incomes intending to access training or education.
• Ensure quality early years’ services for all children, particularly those most in need by establishing an early years’ programme for marginalised children with wraparound family supports in the community.
• Establish an Oireachtas Committee to identify how the State can invest up to €1 billion in childcare.
6. Free Primary Education
Programme for Government Asks: Make primary education free for all children by providing free schoolbooks, eliminating voluntary contributions and reinstating capitation rates for schools.
7. Fairer and Faster Climate Action
Programme for Government Ask: Introduce free public transport for all children and young people under 18. Programme for Government Ask: Improve living conditions for families struggling with fuel poverty by delivering a ‘Warm Homes’ programme focused on reducing energy use and costs.
8. Invest in youth services
Programme for Government Ask: Invest an additional €20m in youth work services by 2025 to strengthen voluntary youth work to provide more supports and activities for young people
Programme for Government Ask: Ensure that 24/7 crisis mental health services are available for children and young people in every community across Ireland
9. Ensure children and young people’s voices are heard in the court system
Programme for Government Ask: Ensure that all children, especially those from low income families, have their rights respected in court by expanding civil legal aid for under 18s.
Programme for Government Ask: Introduce a comprehensive court welfare system which includes access to representatives for every child to ensure their voice is heard in public and private family law proceedings.
10. Empower young people online
Programme for Government Ask: Ensure online providers safety-proof and privacy-proof their services and establish a Digital Safety Commissioner to regulate them.
For more information about these priorities, or to arrange a meeting, please contact Julie at email@example.com