The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, has today (Friday), expressed his dismay at the latest Government Housing report which fails to address homelessness as an issue affecting over 3,000 children in Ireland.
“The latest Government Housing report states that in September there were 1,455 homeless families, comprising of 2,017 adults and 3,124 dependents. Nowhere in this report is the word child, children or young person mentioned.
“The report, produced by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government details the age profile of those who are homeless beginning from 18 years of age with no information on the number of children under 18 who are homeless. The report does outline that there are 3,124 ‘dependents’ living in emergency accommodation and we can only presume that the majority of these are children, though some are likely to be adults with significant needs.
“I do not want to be pedantic about language or terminology, however the failure to mention or consider children in this official housing report unfortunately demonstrates the lack of consideration that has been given to the specific needs of children experiencing homelessness.
“Children are not currently visible or fully recognised in housing legislation or policy. This is an issue that we, and others, have been highlighting for some time.
“A year in homeless accommodation for a four-year-old is a quarter of their life. This experience will have a disproportionate effect on their development and is likely to have long lasting implications. I do not believe that the measures in place to tackle homelessness have fully addressed this fact. More urgency is needed.
“I appreciate that family hubs are currently being rolled out to address the issue of family homelessness. However, those in family hubs are still homeless and a commitment on the length of time that children and their families will be expected to spend in family hubs before finding a permanent home is needed. There is also an urgent need to implement National Quality Standards for Homeless services.
“It is also important to consider the additional children who are especially vulnerable, including those with disabilities or severe medical needs. These children face challenges every day, and their home environment should not be one.
“I acknowledge the increased resources that have been invested in addressing the homelessness problem. However, I remain disappointed by the ongoing failure to recognise the particular needs of children in this situation.”
Ombudsman for Children’s Office
Notes to Editor
- The Ombudsman for Children’s Office is an independent statutory body with an overall mandate to promote the rights and welfare of children under the age of 18 living in Ireland.
- Among the Ombudsman for Children’s core statutory functions is the independent and impartial investigation of complaints made by, or on behalf of, children in relation to public bodies, as well as organisations providing services on behalf of the State.