The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, today published Ireland’s National Action Plan for the EU Child Guarantee.
In 2019, the European Commission announced the creation of a European Child Guarantee with a view to ensuring that every child in Europe at risk of poverty or social exclusion has access to the most basic of rights like healthcare and education. The objective of the European Child Guarantee, which was adopted by the Council in June 2021, is to prevent and combat social exclusion by guaranteeing the access of children in need to a set of key services:
- early childhood education and care
- education (including school-based activities)
Government agreed on 31 May to the publication of the National Action Plan and for its submission to the EU Commission.
The publication of the Plan is an important first step in the implementation of the EU Child Guarantee.
Minister O’Gorman noted:
My Department will coordinate actions across Government in addition to holding responsibility for the delivery of actions contained in this Plan relating to Early Childhood Education and Care, while the delivery of other key actions in the plan will be managed by the parent Department holding policy and operational responsibility.
By and large, the Plan references policies, programmes and interventions that are already State funded and are operational. Of particular note is that Exchequer funding, of the quantum of €7.8bn, is annually spent in areas aligned to the EU Child Guarantee. This is just a first step.
Identifying the most appropriate and effective structures to pursue the reforms necessary to improve outcomes for our most disadvantaged children and young people will be a particular focus of our work in the coming months, in order to progress matters.
Finally, while the Plan does not contain specific reference to the crises in Ukraine and the resultant impact on children, I have written to the EU Commission in this regard – noting that we consider the EU Child Guarantee to encompass such children and we will act accordingly.