Renewed calls for Catch Up Scheme for Children

12 March 2021

Ivana Bacik

Marking the one year anniversary of Ireland’s first lockdown, Labour Seanad Group Leader and Party Spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik has reiterated Labour’s call on the Government to introduce a catch-up scheme for children in Ireland.

This scheme would provide targeted funding to address the severe impacts upon children due to losing significant time at school and engagement in sports and other important extra-curricular activities during the pandemic. Echoing the calls of Barnardo’s and the Children’s Ombudsman to put children front and centre at the recovery of the pandemic, Senator Bacik said we have a unique opportunity to provide a fair start for every child, ensuring that no child is left behind post-pandemic.

Senator Bacik said:

“We want all our children to be treated equally and given the chance to fulfil their potential. One in ten children are living in consistent poverty, and one in four are living in households deprived of two or more basic necessities. These figures have no doubt been exacerbated by the economic impacts of Covid-19 and the ongoing school closures.

“To address this situation, Labour wants to see the introduction of a Catch Up for Children scheme which would put in place targeted, practical measures in recognition of the fact that children have already missed out on so much education and extra-curricular activities over the past year.

“Those with additional needs, vulnerable children and children in special schools have been affected the most. I have been contacted by parents and teachers of children with additional needs who are seeing severe regressive impacts upon their children as a result of school closures. Other children who are vulnerable or have a difficult homelife are struggling to maintain a connection with a trusted adult who may be able to help them. This is one of the many very important roles played by community youth groups across the State.

“The pandemic has shone a light on and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in Irish society. It is clear that, while all young people have suffered through this public health crisis, it is children who are already otherwise marginalised who have suffered the most adversity. Whilst we welcome a full return to class for all children and young people, there are long-term challenges ahead to make up for lost learning and social interaction.

“That’s why I urge the Minister for Children to introduce a well-resourced Catch Up for Children Scheme now. As we mark one year into the pandemic, many of us adults are reflecting on what we have missed in the last twelve months. However, in terms of development, a year is a very long time for a young person. Early intervention will be key to limit the detrimental effects of this traumatic year, with interventions particularly focussed on vulnerable children.”