Barnardos Annual Report 1996

Barnardos. (1997). Barnardos Annual Report 1996.
There has been substantial investment in Ireland’s child care services since the publication of the Kilkenny Report in 1993. It is essential that this progress should not be eroded by a failure to continue with the investment until our child care services reach an acceptable level of development. In the context of a booming economy it is chastening to note that, compared to the 1970’s, more children in Ireland today live in poverty; are homeless; are affected by family breakdown; are referred to health boards due to actual/suspected abuse or neglect; are in the care of health boards; are in trouble with the law. The increasing challenges now faced by children and their families did not appear overnight. They emerged as a result of economic and social changes which were not matched by Government provision to support the most vulnerable children and their families. Neither will these trends be easily reversed. A start has been made in closing the gap between need and provision and it is vital that this should continue. The emphasis in recent developments has been on the creation of additional social work and child care posts, the provision of emergency services and the raising of standards in residential care. However, while these were necessary improvements they will not reduce the demand on services. Unless measures are taken to prevent problems arising in the first place or to intervene at an early stage there is a danger that these recent developments will begin to unravel under the pressure of increasing demands. Barnardo's is firmly convinced that the thrust of developments must be to prevent situations reaching crisis point. For this reason, we have, over many years, invested most of our voluntary funds in preventive services such as pre-school facilities, parenting programmes and youth action projects. Giving children a good start in life is an investment which benefits society as a whole.