20% of children living in households unable to buy them shoes – The Irish Times

20% of children living in households unable to buy them shoes – The Irish Times
20% of children living in households unable to buy them shoes – The Irish Times

There was an increase of more than 30,000 in the number of children experiencing deprivation in the past year, a new report by the Children’s Rights Alliance has found.

The report, published on Monday, revealed there was an increase from 229,091 children experiencing deprivation in 2022, to 260,773 in 2023.

This means that one in five children were living in households unable to afford goods and services that are considered the norm for society, such as being unable to afford a new pair of shoes for a child or not being able to replace broken furniture.

Children have the highest at-risk-of-poverty rate at 14.3 per cent, higher than the rate among the general population at 10.6 per cent.

The at-risk-of-poverty rate describes the proportion of the population who have an income below 60 per cent of the national median income.

A third measure, consistent poverty, combines the proportion of the population identified as being at risk of poverty and experiencing deprivation. Children are most vulnerable to consistent poverty, with a rate of 4.8 per cent compared with an overall rate of 3.6 per cent, the report said.

Some children and young people are more at risk of poverty than others.

Households with children headed by one adult have a higher at-risk-of-poverty rate (19.2 per cent) than those in two-adult households (14.2 per cent), the report showed.

Children living in households headed by a lone parent have a consistent poverty rate of 7.1 per cent, compared with 4.5 per cent for two-parent families, it stated.

The data is based on a household survey. It does not provide detail of the rates of poverty or deprivation among members of the Traveler or Roma communities.

Children living in direct provision centers are “at a high risk of consistent poverty” but they are not counted in the official poverty statistics, the report said.

They currently receive a weekly payment of €29.80, the Daily Expense Allowance (DEA). Parents report the DEA is not sufficient to cover basic needs like food and healthcare, school supplies and books, clothing and footwear needs, and other essentials.

Long-term exposure to poverty and deprivation impacts on children’s outcomes including their physical and mental health, educational attainment and socio-emotional well-being.

Budget 2025 will be the last budget of this Government and “presents a real opportunity” to be more ambitious when it comes to the targeted supports that are needed to lift children out of poverty, the report said.

“The figures of children in poverty are disappointingly still high,” Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said.

“But 2023 did provide hope,” she said, citing that the new Child Poverty and Wellbeing Office in the Department of the Taoiseach began its work, and the hot school meals program was expanded into more primary schools in Budget 2024.

“The Government also announced the commencement of a new Equal Start Program for infants and young children which represents the single most important measure to change the life chances of children,” Ward said.

Equal Start, launched on Monday by the Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, will include a range of supports for the programme’s target settings.

These include a new Family Community Liaison role and roll-out of an associated training program; funding for meals; funding for “tailored supports” for children in target groups; and funding for additional staff time.

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