Financial support for children in Direct Provision falls “shamefully short” of the bare minimum, the Children’s Rights Alliance has said.
Direct Provision is the name used to describe the State support for people whose applications for international protection are being processed.
Accommodation, food and medical care are provided for free to people living in Direct Provision - but they are given little money to spend on other day to day items.
“Their families only receive €29.10 per week [in child benefit] to support them and that’s in contrast to other children on welfare payments,” Children’s Right Alliance CEO Tanya Ward said.
“So, if you are over 12 and your parent is in receipt of Jobseekers’ Allowance or supplementary welfare assistance, your parent would be €50 per week and they get child benefit.”
Despite high inflation, families in Direct Provision have not seen their welfare payments rise in five years and the Alliance believes this has had a profound impact on children in the system.
“They’ll often try and hide the fact that they’re in Direct Provision,” Ms Ward said.
“They’ll pretend they’re not available if they’re invited to a birthday party or if they’re invited to go to the cinema.
“The other bit that really gets to me when I talk to young people in Direct Provision is the impact even on their personal needs - like having the right shampoo, having personal intimate items, the kind of things you need particularly if you’re a growing teenager.”
The Alliance is holding a panel event on financial support for children in Direct Provision and has urged the Government to boost payments in this year’s budget.
The Department for Integration said in a statement to Newstalk:
"As part of the supports provided by the state to International Protection applicants, each adult and child receives a daily expenses allowance.
"The current weekly rate of payment is €38.80 per adult and €29.80 per child. The Government has provided €20.15 million for the allowance in 2023.
"In addition to the daily expenses allowance all applicants are provided with accommodation, meals and toiletries. Since March 2021 all period products are provided to residents free of charge.
"In accordance with the commitments established in A White Paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service, work continues to progress the development of a policy to support the roll out of a payment for children in the International Protection system.
"Options for operationalising this payment are currently under examination in light of the exponential growth in IP applicant arrivals in 2022."
Main image: A child holds someone's hand. Picture by: Alamy.com