News & Media

Govt must learn from Children’s Ombudsman report in building Catch Up Scheme

16 June 2021

Statement by Ivana Bacik TD
Spokesperson on the Enviroment and Climate; Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Labour children spokesperson Ivana Bacik has welcomed the publication of the ‘Childhood Paused’ report by the Children’s Ombudsman, and has called on Government to apply the findings to the development of its Catch Up for Children Scheme. Echoing the comments made by the Ombudsman, Senator Bacik said there cannot be a return to normal. The pandemic highlighted the huge disparities in experience and opportunities for children, and we must do better for all.

Senator Bacik said:

“I welcome the publication of this report but I am deeply concerned at some of its findings. While it is no surprise that almost half of the complaints received related to education, it is very worrying to see that one in five were in relation to family support and care and protection issues.

“While public health measures were indeed required, this report showcases the devastating impact that school closures can have on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Indeed, it is of real concern to read that the number of children contacting the office of the Ombudsman doubled in the year.

“With many children reporting concerns about education, and teenagers reporting the impact of school closures on their mental health and a rise in exam stress, this report highlights the need for a comprehensive Catch Up for Children scheme, which I have proposed since February. Such a scheme must draw on the findings of this report, and look at developing children’s extra-curricular activities and social skills as well as looking at issues in the classroom like literacy rates.

“I urge Government to take a more proactive approach to protecting our children and to make up for all the time during which students missed out on in-class learning. We need to invest in the repair work now."