Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has said homeless children are falling through the cracks of the child welfare system.
Deputy Rabbitte expressed her deep concern over the inaction by both the Government and Tusla in addressing the crisis of child homelessness which is gripping the country.
“The Governments dismal record on housing provision is creating a whole cohort of children growing up without a place that they can call home. In 2013 there were 15 families on average becoming homeless in Dublin every month. In the last few months of 2016 this has increased 5 fold to over 92 new families becoming homeless each month,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
“These children have been living in hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation over a period of months. Many families have to move accommodation on a continual basis as a result of this. This is especially pronounced during the peak tourist season. Currently there are over 2,177 children sleeping in emergency homeless accommodation right across the country.
“The experience of homelessness and constant disruption is having a detrimental impact on the development of these children. For example it is impacting on their ability to access their school or GP and is also limiting their contact with relatives and friends.
“It’s astonishing that no Department or Government agency bears any special statutory responsibility for putting in place in-reach plans to promote the normal development and reduce the risk to the welfare of children in emergency accommodation. Such care plans are essential in ensuring homeless children have co-ordinated access to social and educational services.
“Currently Tusla only plays a reactive role in relation to vulnerable children. They only take action if welfare or protection concerns are reported to social workers. It’s shameful that Tusla does not have the statutory responsibility for all families and children who are housed in emergency accommodation.
“Tusla needs to be empowered to allow it play a proactive role in protecting child welfare. The agency should be afforded the opportunity to put in place in-reach plans to coordinate and integrate all social services for these families.”