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Homeless scheme to help Cork children

Thursday, 20th April, 2017 1:01am

Homeless children on Leeside should benefit from a scheme which has been extended outside of Dublin.

Cork city is one of nine regions throughout the country that have been chosen to be part of an €8.25m scheme, which will try to ease the difficulty for parents and children living in emergency accommodation.

This scheme is being extended outside Dublin to nine other regions and is for children under five living in emergency accommodation. Under the scheme, each child is entitled to 25 hours of free childcare a week and a daily meal.

In addition, an information campaign is underway to ensure families are aware of this entitlement, with leaflets being distributed through frontline agencies such as Focus Ireland.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone confirmed the extension of the scheme Tuesday. She said that as well as Cork city, councils in Clare, Cavan, Donegal, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Offaly and Wicklow have signed up to get involved. This means that Cork city is the only region in Munster where the scheme will be available.

She said expensive childcare is stopping parents from taking up jobs, training and education opportunities. This scheme is aimed at lifting that barrier for those families in greatest need.

She added: “This scheme was identified as providing an important need by those who work in the frontline of the homeless crisis when I met them last year.

“I am encouraging Focus Ireland, other frontline agencies and all local authorities to use every means possible to ensure families are aware of this vital support.

“Our expansion beyond the four Dublin local authorities into nine new areas is welcome – but I would like to see us operational in every part of the country. I encourage other councils to come on board,” added the children’s Minister.

 

FOCUS ON THE YOUTH

Meanwhile, the announcement of the scheme’s extension came a day after Focus Ireland warned of a deepening youth homelessness crisis.

Figures show the number of 18 to 24 year olds who are homeless has shot up by 78 per cent in the last three years.

Figures from the Department of Housing reported that 776 young people were homeless and in emergency accommodation in the week of 20-26 February 2017.

This was a 78 per cent increase from the earliest figure available in April 2014 which was 436.

Focus Ireland said it is already moving to address this rising problem through an innovative approach to target vulnerable people in the 18-24 age-group.

The Focus Ireland service is called ‘Housing First for Youth’, and provides young people with housing as quickly as possible and then intensive and targeted, person-centred supports including healthcare, counselling, education, training, financial advice and more.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “We have already begun to trial it in Ireland and the results are very positive. The approach has also proven successful in Cork and we’ve expanded the scheme to North Tipperary, Dublin and Clare. If this kind of co-operation can be replicated elsewhere, then we could transform this situation. Our plan now is to roll it out countrywide but this will take time and support.”

The charity said that the method has been tested and proven to work in North America and elsewhere in Europe and is much more effective than traditional ways of helping people in homelessness.

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