ChildLinks Issue 3: Children and Creativity
Barnardos. (2004). ChildLinks Issue 3: Children and Creativity. https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/865
The theme of the Barnardos pre-budget submission to Government this year is ‘invest in children’. It may be a cliché to say that children are the future but it is also arguable that investment in children will pay economic and social dividends in the future. As an organisation which works primarily in disadvantaged communities, Barnardos is particularly concerned that the 2005 budget should prioritise the needs of disadvantaged children. The evidence of child poverty in Ireland is well documented and irrefutable. The most recent data (2001) shows that 6.5% of children in Ireland or 66,000 children are living in consistent poverty. While acknowledging that Government has made significant progress on alleviating consistent poverty, the relative poverty figures have actually dis-improved. In 2001 over 23% or 237,000 children lived in families experiencing relative income poverty. What do these statistics mean in reality for the children and families experiencing poverty? Barnardos meets the many faces of child poverty through our work with children and families. Many families with whom we work often find themselves trapped in a cycle of welfare dependency, low paid work, unemployment, debt and cyclical money crises. Children suffer too. Often families cannot afford the costs of ‘free education’ including uniforms, schoolbooks, transport, meals and after school activities. Children in disadvantaged areas often have little or no access to play, recreation or arts facilities and their families cannot afford the cost of a weekly swim, a trip to McDonalds or the cinema, outings which most children take for granted. Returning to the ‘invest in children’ theme referred to already, the arguments for early intervention and prevention also support the case for increasing our investment in children. The evidence from the Perry Preschool project and others in the US support the argument for early intervention and investment in early years services. The High/Scope Perry Pre-school Programme reported a cost benefit ratio of 7 to 1. In other words there was a return of 7 dollars on every dollar invested which included savings arising out of decreases in crime figures and juvenile justice system savings. Barnardos supports the case for national universal quality early years provision, both from the cost-benefit analysis point of view and arising from a commitment to best outcomes for children. In Budget 2005 the Government should begin to introduce a comprehensive quality early years service for all three and four year-olds. It should prioritise disadvantaged children in the first few years and should be extended to all children in the future. It is also important that strategies and services to support children’s rights, put in place by Government, are adequately resourced. In particular, the Government should allocate additional resources to the Ombudsman for Children's Office, the Family Support Agency, and the National Educational Welfare Board to enable them carry out their roles in relation to children. Budget 2005 offers the Government the opportunity to address the plight of disadvantaged children and families. All the economic indicators and the public finances are positive. There is an abundance of research and policy advice available to Government on which measures to adopt in tackling child poverty. An investment in children is an investment in all our futures.