Job not done for Government as new Covid-19 restrictions leave many children, young people and their families in serious need of support
Following the Cabinet meeting today (06.01.2020) on the latest Covid-19 restrictions to be rolled out, the Children’s Rights Alliance is calling for immediate and serious consideration for the many children who will be severely impacted by the closure of schools and education settings.
Speaking in response to the Government’s announcement, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward said, “We acknowledge that as a society we are in a very precarious position with rising cases of Covid-19 each day. Some good decisions were made today. For example, that early years facilities will remain open for vulnerable children, that special schools and facilities will still provide for children with disabilities and that Leaving Certificate Students will get a three-day week.
However, the approach announced this afternoon by Government simply does not go far enough to support the children most in need. A nuanced plan for education is needed to ensure that children and young people are not left behind again. When we listen to parents, we know that children with special educational needs suffered with the initial school closures. When we listen to students themselves, they are deeply frustrated with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ outlook and more consideration is needed to provide opportunities that give students a say and a choice in these discussions.”
“While it is very welcome that early years facilities will remain open for vulnerable children and school meals will continue where schools participate, we remain very concerned about particularly disadvantaged children that normally attend primary and second level schools. School is a safe haven for many of these children. To close school doors to these children and young people, Government is turning a blind eye to the devastating impact these closures may have. When schools closed last year, there was a collapse in child protection and welfare referrals. Teachers and principals know their students and play a crucial role in signalling children who may need more support. More work is needed to find a solution that ensures that we do not close the door on these children for a second time,” Tanya Ward stated. "It is crucial that with these new restrictions comes a renewed urgency to provide support to the most vulnerable children that attend primary and second level.”
“The existing inequalities in our education system were laid bare and intensified by this pandemic. For many students, accessing education online can be a challenge and the reality is that thousands of our students are trying to engage in education while living in homeless accommodation or direct provision centres. The Government needs to work with education partners to ensure that the right supports and resources are provided to enable these students to continue their education,” said Tanya Ward.
Children with Disabilities and Additional Needs
“We are relieved to see that children with special educational needs have been prioritised with schools and classes remaining open for these families. Supports must be put in place for the principals, educators, support services and family members who have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to maintain educational opportunities for these children. It is essential that necessary resources are provided to ensure these schools and classes remain a safe place for students and staff over the coming weeks. Government must now look to providing the same level of support to children and young people with special educational needs in mainstream classes who must not miss out on their education under these new restrictions,” said Tanya Ward.
Contact: Emma Archbold Children’s Rights Alliance, Tel: 0879971410, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor:
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children's Rights Alliance is available for interview.
• Julie Ahern, Legal and Policy Manager, Children's Rights Alliance is available for interview.
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About the Children’s Rights Alliance
• Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.