ChildLinks Issue 3: Child Poverty

Barnardos. (2005). ChildLinks Issue 3: Child Poverty.
Barnardos has welcomed the NESF report Early Childhood Care and Education and believes that it has set out a framework for the development of early childhood care and education over the next ten years. In particular we welcome the proposal for one years universal quality free early childhood care and education provision for pre-school children. We welcome the importance attached to child development, diversity of provision, flexibility of choice for parents and the proposed child and family centres. This edition of ChildLinks focuses on the theme of child poverty with a range of articles presented from research, policy, theoretical advocacy and practice perspectives. The Barnardos Seven Steps plan towards ending child poverty is outlined which is relevant to the current media and political focus on childcare. Evaluations of early years programmes have shown that participation in such programmes has a positive impact on children's cognitive, social and emotional development, school readiness and school performance, particularly for children who are most disadvantaged. Accordingly, Barnardos is recommending that in the short term universal quality free early childhood education and care be made available as a priority to children who are disadvantaged. The 2005 budget has taken a first step in tackling the childcare crisis and lifting one in seven children in Ireland out of poverty, but unfortunately significant opportunities have been missed. Critically, the budget did not address the need fora free one year preschool place for all children. A payment of €19 per week (i.e. the early childcare supplement) will not make childcare more affordable for parents caught in the poverty trap. It is hoped that the decision to delegate to the Minister for Children responsibility for childcare, child protection and welfare, juvenile justice and early years education will also give greater priority to the issue of child poverty.