An important report was published last week which clearly exposed how the Governments latest budget targeted children and how national health policy is also failing children. The Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2010 provides a comprehensive overview of how the State performed in its services to children in 2009. The Report shows an overall disimprovement on 2008 when the Government was given a Grade of D; this year's grade is 'D minus' which I believe is a true reflection of the situation.
Budget 2009 and 2010 have targetted low income families with children. The failure to eliminate child poverty during the 'Celtic Tiger' period is compounded now by measures which are worsening the lives of low income families. The cuts to Child Benefit and to education are especially damaging and will have long-term negative consequences for children. It is little wonder that the Report Card gives the Government an 'E' mark for the 'material well being' of children.
The Report's overview of health services for children is especially damning. Across the range of essential health services - primary care, therapeutic services, hospital care, mental health - the story is the same. Children are being let down, early intervention is not happening, services are either not in place or inadequate, waiting times are inordinately long. As the Report states, access to to healthcare is a right for every child and cannot be set aside in a recession but this is the danger we face.
The Report's finding that the Government is 'seriously behind target' on the provision of the long promised primary care network is important. As the Report states 'for children, the kind of community-based, early intervention and preventive healthcare services provided within a primary care structure are critical'. I agree with the Report's call for the ring-fencing of multi-annual funding for the development of primary care. The Government must take very seriously and act upon this and all the other recommendations of the Report.