Child poverty

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Child & Family Agency passes Seanad 2nd stage

The Seanad approved Child and Family Agency Bill (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 27th November 2013, 855-880).  Introducing the Bill, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, spoke of the early intervention programme to which  Atlantic Philanthropies had made a contribution of €14m, matched by the government, meaning that almost €30m had been made available for this investment.  The new agency would include the Family Support Agency and would build on its work with the 106 Family Resource Centres.  The agency also funded more than 600 voluntary and community organizations. We had to take account the impact on poverty.

 

Jillian van Turnhout (ind, Taoiseach nominee) welcomed improvements made to the Bill following representations by civil society organizations such as the Children’s Rights Alliance and Barnardos.  David Cullinane (SF, labour) criticized the small allocation of €2.5m to area-based responses to child poverty, contrasting it with €29m from Atlantic Philanthropies, covering just three disadvantaged areas, with three more to be added next year.  There was bitter irony in this, for the government was topping up a grant from an international charity to address the child poverty caused by the same government through its futile austerity policies, such as the cut to child benefit of €142m.  He specifically proposed that the Family Resource Centres National Forum have representation on the board of the new agency so as to protect the character, ethos and focus of the centres.  He supported the Bill, but we had a long way to go to address child poverty.