Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children Robert Troy TD has expressed alarm over the complete inaction by the Minister for Children James Reilly and Minister for Environment Alan Kelly in addressing the child homeless crisis.
Deputy Troy made the comments following the publication of a Focus Ireland report which highlights that over 1,000 children under the age of eight are currently homeless in Ireland. The Fianna Fáil Spokesperson had previously raised the issue with Minister Reilly in the Dáil when he asked what care plans are being put in place to cater for children who are in emergency accommodation.
“The Government’s dismal record on housing provision is creating a whole cohort of children who are growing up without a home. In 2013 a total of 20 families were becoming homeless in Dublin alone every month. However in the last few months this has more than tripled to over 60 families becoming homeless each month. Living in emergency accommodation is hugely disruptive for children as they are forced to frequently change schools and lack access to basic facilities to help aid their development.
“Last July I questioned Minister Reilly in the Dáil as to what his department is doing to protect the welfare of children experiencing homelessness. I was shocked by the response that I received. Minister Reilly admitted that neither his department nor Tusla bear any special responsibility for putting in place in-reach plans in order to promote normal development and reduce the risk to the welfare of children living in emergency accommodation.
“Such care plans are essential to ensure children living in emergency accommodation have coordinated access to social and educational services and to enable them to lead as close to a normal life as possible. The experience of homelessness is having a profound effect on the development of children. They have difficulty accessing a GP and their contact with relatives or friends is being seriously diminished over time.
“It is shameful that Tusla is not being given statutory responsibility for putting in place special care plans for all families and children being housed in emergency accommodation. Minister Reilly clearly believes that Tusla only has a reactive role to play in relation to vulnerable families and will only act if serious protection concerns are raised. The Minister should order Tusla to take a proactive role to reduce the risk to the welfare of these children.
“Minister for Environment Alan Kelly has allowed the housing crisis to spiral out of control over the last year. Things have gone from bad to worse under his tenure with more children than ever living in emergency accommodation. We are still awaiting decisive action from him to help stop families becoming homeless.”