Bacik calls for Additional Supports for Families and Children as School Holidays Begin
1 July 2021
Spokesperson on the Enviroment and Climate; Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
With the closure of many primary and post primary schools in the constituency for summer this week, Dublin Bay South bye-election candidate, Senator Ivana Bacik, says the State should provide a suite of additional public supports to assist parents and families.
Senator Bacik said:
“The impact of the Covid pandemic on families must be addressed. We in Labour have been calling for the introduction of a catch-up programme for children who fell behind with school-work and missed out on so much developmentally and socially during the lockdowns.
“We also believe that it will be crucial to avoid further school closures, while curtailing the spread of the Delta variant. Education is a fundamental right and is essential to improve life opportunities and to foster equality. We need to ensure the involvement of all partners in the education sector, public health experts and department officials so that a viable plan can be devised to ensure the re-opening of schools in late August/September. In particular, serious concerns about refusal of SNA provision in Dublin for children who require additional supports at school must be addressed urgently.
“New parents also need consideration. Notwithstanding medical advice to the contrary, some maternity hospitals continue to restrict partners from participating in appointments, scans, and even the process of labour. The lead-up to birth and labour is a sensitive time for women and should not be made more difficult by being separated from loved-one. It is possible to do this safely.
“I am also proposing structural changes to deliver quality healthcare for pregnant women and mothers. The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme, which allows pregnant women to receive combined care from a GP and hospital during pregnancy, dates back to the 1970s and even before, and needs to be overhauled. Further, we lack primary care mental health services in Ireland for adults who are experiencing anxiety and other mental health concerns. We know that post-natal depression is a risk for many. I’ve been working with health professionals, who are deeply concerned about the situation, to propose solutions. The opportunity should be seized now to modernise the current system.
"On structural changes, I am very concerned at ongoing issues around the proposed new National Maternity Hospital. I am glad to have confirmed that Minister Stephen Donnelly will be coming before the Seanad this Friday morning to debate the NMH with us, and I will be raising my ongoing concerns about governance, public ownership and independence with him.
“A further area of concern relates to supports for breastfeeding. The experience of women in maternity hospitals is patchy, as reported by Bainne Beatha, Cuidiu, Friends of Breastfeeding and others. While it is welcome that additional lactation consultants are to be recruited to hospitals, this is not enough. My longstanding view is that mothers should have access to at least one visit from a trained lactation consultant in their home after their release from hospital. This would help iron out difficulties that can arise in the early days and help improve Ireland’s comparatively low breastfeeding rates.
“Over my political career, I have consistently focused on the need to support families with serious difficulties accessing childcare. we need to develop a universal, publicly funded, childcare system in Ireland to ease the burden on parents, to ensure decent conditions for childcare staff, and to provide high quality early years care and education for children.”