Sinn Fein TD for Kilkenny Carlow
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has criticised Government following the release of figures which reveal large numbers of children in care are awaiting the allocation of a qualified social worker.
Teachta Funchion said:
“873 children in the care system are awaiting the allocation of a social worker. Most worrying, however, is the fact that it cannot be determined the length of time children have been left languishing on these waiting lists, and if they will ever be allocated this vital and specialist support.
“These figures which were released to me yesterday, on the same day I attended the Children’s Rights Alliance Child Poverty Monitor 2023 launch, illustrate the depth of disadvantage for some of our most vulnerable children. It is disadvantage stacked on disadvantage.
“This is the Alliance’s second monitor to track government progress on addressing child poverty. We heard from a range of speakers who all spoke of an increasingly unequal society. Tanya Ward, CEO of Children’s Rights Alliance pointed to a staggering increase of 64 per cent in family homelessness in one year alone, with so many more children living in poverty, than this time last year. This clearly demonstrates the stresses on disadvantaged families and the range of their needs that simply are not being met.
“The correlation between poverty and the demand for services is obvious to all – except this government.
“The Minister has known for some time they have a serious problem with retention and recruitment of social workers, who increasingly struggle to cope with challenging caseloads stemming from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
“Lone parenthood, ethnicity, disability and family size are all identified as key markers of persistent poverty. However, we are still so scant on the details or commitment of resources to ensure the Taoiseach’s much lauded Child Poverty Unit can deliver it’s ambition for Ireland to be one of the best places in the world to be a child.
“I hear from social workers all the time that they are in constant crisis mode in their work, firefighting and reacting, which completely depletes their ability to offer early intervention and family support – all of which are crucial to avoid a child having to go into care.
“Another very vulnerable and sizable cohort of children are those in kinship care arrangements. These children are outside the statutory responsibility of the state when the decision is taken for them to remain with family members.
“This government and previous governments have concentrated their efforts to pull children out of consistent poverty through the use of income supports. What is clearly needed to deliver real change is greater investment in services and a substantial workforce strategy for social workers.”