ChildLinks Issue 2: Infant Mental Health

Barnardos. (2012). ChildLinks Issue 2: Infant Mental Health.
In the 50 years that Barnardos has been working with children in Ireland, the country has been through many changes. Since 1962, everything from our landscape, to the food we eat and the way we live our lives, has changed gradually; each change reflecting the journey we’ve been on and the attitudes we’ve accumulated along the way. Little else in recent years has been so reflective of how much we’ve changed than the passing of the Children’s Referendum. Saturday 10 November 2012 is a date that we should all remember, one that will no doubt be reported in history books in years to come. It is the day when we said we will never again allow the kind of failures that saw so many children suffer in silence for so long. It is not an exaggeration to say that this marks a new beginning for Ireland’s children. They are no longer unseen and unheard in our Constitution. They are now placed exactly where they belong: in the very heart of our law and our society. Article 42A represents a bedrock for building a better child welfare and protection system. It is a blueprint for better laws and policies that will mean children are heard, that their best interests are prioritised and that we create better structures and services for meeting their needs. Now that we’ve laid our foundation, it is critical that we don’t delay in constructing the elements that will improve outcomes for vulnerable children across Ireland. Key to this is the Child and Family Support Agency, which is due to come into operation in 2013. After the referendum, this Agency is the greatest hope for better child welfare and protection services in Ireland. For the first time, we will have a body whose sole remit is to deliver services to children and their families to ensure that all children have a chance to grow up safe and happy. It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste. The people of Ireland have given a clear statement of how much the protection of children matters and is it incumbent on all of us in a position to deliver on the commitment laid out in Article 42A to make better provision a reality. This is especially true for Government. As we approach another budget, undoubtedly another harsh budget, it is critical that the Child and Family Support Agency is set up with the full remit it needs to meet vulnerable children’s needs, across the full spectrum of prevention, early intervention and crisis services. And it is fundamental to the success of the Agency that it is given the resources to do this. We have proven what we can do when we decide that children really matter. Now we need to put it into practice.