The Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government received an overall grade of C+ in the 2012 Report Card published this recently by the Children’s Rights Alliance, the best grade received by any government since the Report Card series first began in 2009, however, it lost marks for what has been described as “glaring violations of children’s’ rights”.
The Report Card 2012 - which was researched and compiled with help of an external panel which includes UNESCO chairholder in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement and Director of the Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, Professor Pat Dolan - gave the Government a C+ grade in recognition of its decision to provide the minister for children and youth affairs with full status at Cabinet, the establishment of a dedicated Department of Children and Youth Affairs, approval of a new children’s hospital, and a firm commitment to hold a referendum on children’s rights in 2012. However, the Alliance marked the Government down for “glaring violations of children’s right”, in particular Budget 2012 which failed to protect children by plunging vulnerable families further into poverty and for Government’s treatment of children in detention in St Patrick’s Institution.
This year, each section of the Report Card is referenced with local examples from regional newspaper articles with the Galway Advertiser article “Galway schools continues to suffer from education cuts” dated September 29, 2011, being referenced in the section on Traveller Children. According to the Children’s Rights Alliance this reference was used as an example to illustrate a cross section perspective on how Government decisions have affected children on the ground. The Alliance found that “in education, Traveller children are more likely to leave school early and/or without qualifications”. The Alliance is calling on the Government to clearly outline the steps it plans to take to improve outcomes for Traveller children.
Commenting on the report, Professor Dolan, said: "The establishment of the new Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Government's commitment to create a dedicated Child and Family Support Agency are very welcome and will, I have no doubt, prove milestones in helping to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Fundamental reform of our child protection services is vital if we are to do our very best for vulnerable children and families requiring substantial support and protection - and I look forward to the Agency’s establishment."