Implementing the European Child Guarantee in Ireland
The Children’s Rights Alliance Ireland gathered experts and decision-makers from both European and national levels for a webinar on Implementing the European Child Guarantee in Ireland. Eurochild supported this event to ensure timeline considerations by civil society of this future initiative which is planned to be included in the next EU budget (2021-2027).
The ambition of the Child Guarantee is that every child in Europe has access to the following key services: free healthcare, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition. It will particularly focus on vulnerable children and those experiencing poverty, including refugee children. The event focused on how Ireland can implement the Child Guarantee to reduce the levels of child poverty in Ireland which ranks 8th highest in the EU for its rate of child poverty (16%).
In Ireland, child poverty tends to affect more those households where parents are not in employment, lone parent households, households with significant illness, Traveller and Roma households, children in Direct Provision.
The event proved to be an engaging and encouraging discussion on how children's rights can be furthered through the Guarantee, especially now given the disproportionate effect that Covid-19 will have on children across the EU. Keynote speakers included Prof. Hugh Frazer, Maynooth University and Prof. Mary Daly, University of Oxford.
Prof. Frazer who is edited the feasibility study for the European Child Guarantee initiative opened the webinar by giving an overview of the Child Guarantee and the current state of play in Europe: “Evidence from EU level can be powerful, it can show what policies are performing better in different countries. It can be used as a lever in the national context.”
Prof. Mary Daly focused on the challenges and opportunities for Ireland to reduce child poverty: "What would the Child Guarantee look like for the most vulnerable families? I discussed this with EU colleagues and we came to the conclusion that it would look like wraparound support or service.”
This was followed by a panel session on the various policy areas of the Child Guarantee. The panel comprised: Frances Fitzgerald, MEP, Tricia Keilthy, Head of Social Justice Ireland, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, John O'Toole, Principal Officer, Families and Low Pay Commission, the Department of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, Reka Tunyogi, Head of Advocacy, Eurochild, and Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of Children's Rights Alliance.
Frances Fitzgerald, Irish member of the European Parliament reminded the audience of the moral imperative of investing in children and families: "We [Ireland] are only as good as our most vulnerable families."