The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO ) received 24 – or two per cent of its total complaints – from Mayo in 2020, its Annual Report has revealed.
2020 Childhood Paused reveals that the OCO received 1,187 complaints about services provided to children in 2020.
The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon said: "We do not know where every single one of our complaints comes from – some complaints relate to more than one area, or there can be more than one child involved.
"However, we know for sure that 24 complaints came from Mayo. While this is not very surprising, based on population spread, it shows that we still have to work hard to let people in Mayo know that we are here."
He continued: "In 2020, six per cent of the complaints made to the OCO came directly from children, this is an increase from three per cent in 2019.
"This increase can largely be attributed to those who contacted us in relation to education issues and is an indication of the level of upset among students. 100 per cent of the children who contacted the OCO mentioned the impact of the pandemic on their mental health of children.
"Once again, the main area of the public service people complained about in 2020 was education – making up 46 per cent of complaints. In 2019, 49 per cent of complaints were about education.
"New issues that came up in 2020 included: (1 ) Remote learning and the digital divide, (2 ) Lack of clarity about State examinations, (3 ) Mental impact on young people, (4 ) Calculated grades, (5 ) Children in high risk households who feared bringing Covid-19 home and (6 ) Impact on children with special educational needs."
Dr Muldoon said there can be no return to 'normal' for children after the pandemic, stating: "2020 was a devastating year for children. We heard heartbreaking stories of children with additional needs regressing and about the turmoil the uncertainty caused.
"Children were grappling with the digital divide and they worried about parents who had lost their jobs as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy. We know that this impacted children in Mayo and all over the country."
Dr Muldoon encouraged children, parents or those working with children in Mayo, to contact the OCO if they have an issue the office may be able to resolve.
"The OCO offers a free, impartial service to anybody who thinks a child has been treated unfairly by a public body or Government funded organisation. We offer advice, help to resolve the issue as soon as possible and if necessary, we will carry out an investigation. Visit www.oco.ie for information on how to contact the office or make a complaint."