Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has today published the first Programme Plan for the Child Poverty and Well-Being Programme Office in his Department which aims to make Ireland the best country in Europe to be a child.

From Poverty to Potential: A Programme Plan for Child Poverty and Well-being 2023-2025 focuses on six areas for early action, and brings together policies and services to make a real impact on the lives of children living in poverty, starting with Budget 2024.

The initial focus is on making sure that every child and their family has access to:

  1. the income they need;
  2. early learning and care;
  3. reduced cost of education;
  4. prevention and mitigation of family homelessness;
  5. pathways to access the services they need;
  6. and, arts, culture and sports opportunities.

Progress on these six areas will bring us much closer to a society where poverty does not undermine any childhood.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

Ending child poverty is a core ambition of this Government. This is important not only because we want every child to be happy and well-cared for, but also because happy childhoods are the foundation for realising broader economic, environmental, and social goals.

Progress in recent years shows it is possible to provide every child with the best start in life.

I am very proud of all we have done to help children and families, but I know we can do more to ensure that every child is happy and healthy and has the opportunity to meet their potential.

In fact, we must do more if we are going to meet the challenges of the coming years and decades.

We must give everyone the best start in life, empowering them to make the most of that start through education, equal opportunities, and good jobs to work towards a better future. Child poverty undermines that start and steals futures, and that is why I am determined that in the coming years we will make a lasting and life-changing difference across all six of the areas identified in this programme.

This approach includes ensuring a specific focus on child poverty at budget time. The annual budget is a critical moment in which Government articulates its ambition for the coming year.

Given the Government’s commitment to reducing child poverty, I will make sure that the Budget reflects our ambitions for children.

The new unit is prioritising actions in areas that will have the greatest impact, especially for children who are more likely to experience poverty and who face greater challenges in overcoming it.

This initial Programme focuses on six areas. The programme was developed in consultation with a range of government and non-government stakeholders, and also drew on the Government’s ongoing work to hear the voices of children.

Joining with the Taoiseach, Minister O’Gorman said:

As Minister for Children, my priority is always to pursue measures to create best possible outcomes for all children in this country. Systematic actions to tackle the incidence of childhood poverty and enhance wellbeing must be at the core of this work – to give every child a safe, cared-for and nurtured childhood; actions which amplify positive outcomes across wider society.

The publication of today’s programme plan by the Child Poverty and Well-Being Programme Office gives a welcome urgency and cross-Government focus to this work during the critical budgetary process. Child poverty and deprivation intersects with the many early challenges and disadvantages vulnerable children and young people in Ireland face. I am committed to working with the Taoiseach and wider Government to address these challenges by working in particular towards broadening access to Early Learning and Care to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, allowing more children with a disability access an expanded Access and Inclusion Model, and by bolstering key supports for children in care.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and youth said:

The publication of the programme plan by the Child Poverty and Well-Being Programme Office gives a welcome gravity and cross-Government spotlight to this work during the critical budgetary process.

The test of our progress and success will not be whether we add more to the affluence to those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

This programme is intended to drive implementation of a broad range of commitments that will impact on the six areas, but the Office will also undertake a small number of strategic initiatives aimed at enhancing the efficiency and efficacy of cross-government responses.

 

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