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850 children in care in Cork

Wednesday, 4th October, 2017 5:53pm

In advance of the budget, Barnardos has launched a campaign urging the Government to invest in services in Cork.

These services would protect and encourage children’s development and potential, which Barnardos say is a key step in tackling Ireland’s extremely high child poverty rates.

Barnardos CEO, Fergus Finlay said: “Children in Cork are being profoundly and negatively affected by many of the challenges currently facing our society.

“Almost 15,000 children in Cork live in consistent poverty. Children in Cork endure proportionately longer waiting times for medical assessment and treatment.”

He continued: “In Cork and Kerry, 176 children are currently homeless. We know that these challenges and barriers in early years massively impact a child’s development and potential in life. The Government must ensure quality services are available when and where they are needed – the lives of children hang in the balance.”

Barnardos say that Budget 2018 can protect and encourage children’s development by allocating an additional €20 million to Tusla's budget, on the basis that it is ring-fenced exclusively for preventative work.

There are just over 850 children in care in Cork, Barnardos has said.

It also says that by increasing investment in preventative work, the Government can ensure that children within the care system or at risk of going into care, can remain with their families on the basis that holistic, timely, proportional and accessible supports would be available for them.

Kate Looney, project worker in Mahon said: “Many children start out in life with their development hampered and their potential already limited because of where they live, their household income or other life circumstances.

“Tragically, this is preventable. Having proper supports in place can mean the difference between poverty and stability, a safe home or homelessness, health and development or illness and delay. Through supporting parents and guaranteeing quality public services, we can enable children and young people to write their own future and fulfill their potential.

“Budget 2018 must commit to protecting children; ensuring supports are in place to give every child the opportunity to thrive,” she concluded.

Barnardos has also asked that the upcoming Budget invest in the building of social and affordable housing and committing to keep Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment rates in line with market rents to prevent more families becoming homeless.

The charity says that almost 5,000 families with children are on the housing waiting lists in the Cork city and county council areas.

Increasing the supply of social housing, the children's charity said, means ending the uncertainty of accessing an independent home for many of these children and their parents.

This level of funding would ensure:

• The 7,000 babies born in Cork each year would be cared for by their parent for their first year.

• 15,000 one and two year olds in Cork would attend early years settings that meet excellent standards of quality.

• 15,000 pre-school children across Cork would start their educational journey on the best foot by accessing places in guaranteed quality settings running the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme.

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