One in seven children 'lost to poverty, homelessness and neglect', Barnardos warns

The charity's new Lost Childhood campaign calls for the Government to prioritise children

One in seven children 'lost to poverty, homelessness and neglect', Barnardos warns

Launch of Barnardos Lost Childhood campaign. Image: Juliette Gash

One in seven children in Ireland is lost to poverty, homelessness and neglect, according to Barnardos.

The charity has launched its Lost Childhood campaign, and wants the Government to prioritise children.

Barnardos is highlighting the 173,000 children who are having their childhoods and futures "written for them through circumstances beyond their control".

CEO Fergus Finlay says they have laid out six measures that would help the one in seven 'lost' children.

He explained: "[They're] things like a dedicated public health nursing system, so that every child would be guaranteed five visits in their home from a community nurse in the first two years of life.

"Things like an extra year of free pre-school... those kind of small practical measures are almost nothing in the overall scheme of things, but they would be the kind of things that would begin to make a real difference."

The charity says the actions would cost less than €250 million on top of social housing building costs - a fraction of what the Government plans to spend on the recently unveiled €116bn National Development Plan.

The six proposed measures are:

  • A dedicated child and family public health nurse system with guaranteed home visits
  • Greater availability of timely community and public based family support services
  • Extending the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme for an additional year, opening it to all two year olds
  • Free school books to all primary school children
  • Fully staffed primary health care teams across the country, at a ratio of 1 for every 1500 children
  • Guarantee that no child spends more than six months in emergency accommodation and substantially increase the building of social housing