The Child Poverty and Well-Being Programme Office, established in the Department of the Taoiseach, aims to tackle child poverty and enhance children’s overall well-being in Ireland. This initiative recognises that ending child poverty is vital, not only for children’s happiness and development, but also for achieving broader economic, environmental, and social goals. Following the decision to establish the Child Poverty and Well-being Programme Office, the Government has now launched the initial Programme Plan: “From Poverty to Potential: a Programme Plan for Child Poverty and Well-Being 2023-2025”.
Child Poverty in Ireland
The Programme Plan outlines that children are more likely than any other age group to experience deprivation or consistent poverty. This disproportionate poverty burden can be due to the additional costs of raising a family, as well as the challenges of combining care and employment. There are some groups of children who are significantly more likely to live in poverty, like families headed by a lone parent, Traveller and Roma families, larger families, families where the mother has a low level of education, and families headed by a person with a disability or who is unemployed. Barriers in accessing services can amplify the impact of living in poverty including for those children facing language barriers or who live in rural areas, including children who experience poverty in the Gaeltacht. The Programme Plan also calls on the lived experiences of children living in poverty in Ireland, highlighting children’s voices of their experiencing of poverty and the struggles of their families. These voices will continue to provide insights into what is the most important to children in responding to poverty.
The Initial Programme Plan
The Programme Plan’s foundation lies in coordinating government efforts to make Ireland the best country in Europe for children. To further this, the government has established a dedicated Programme Office to address child poverty comprehensively. This initial Programme Plan sets out the ambition and focus for the Programme Office. The focus is on six priority areas that promise the most significant impact:
- Income assistance and joblessness
- Early learning and childcare
- Reducing the cost of education
- Addressing family homelessness
- Integrating public health and family support services
- Expanding arts, culture, and sports opportunities for children
These six priority areas reflect the interconnected nature of the Programme Office mandate, in that they focus both on the well-being of children and on child poverty. The rationale here being that material resources are necessary to a child’s potential to thrive and will impact on a child’s well-being but are not fully sufficient to ensure well-being. For the Programme Office, well-being requires a range of other supports and services which promote physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. The plan uses a “Theory of Change” model to approach this challenge. Theory of Change relies on the core assumption that by growing a cross-government response we can not only enhance delivery but also focus on unlocking shared challenges, such as promoting a high-quality, valued child-services workforce and ensuring that services can work together to meet the needs of all children.
Within Early Years (EY), the Programme Office will monitor the delivery of the government’s programme for the sector. The Programme Office will work with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) to focus on:
- Continuing state investment in Early Years, to ensure high quality and accessible places for all children, at low cost or free for the families with the lowest incomes. There will also be further expansion of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM).
- Promotion of the provision of EY spaces where needs are greatest, particularly in areas of socio-economic deprivation. Support will be provided through capital investment and monitoring the progress of the workforce development plan, Nurturing Skills.
- Developing the Equal Participation Model (EPM), which will ensure a specific forum on supporting vulnerable families and children to access and sustain their involvement in high quality EY.
The Child Poverty and Well-Being Programme Office sets forth a plan to address child poverty and promote children’s overall well-being in Ireland, through coordinated efforts and strategic initiatives. You can read the plan in full via the Taoiseach’s press release. And you can also share the child-friendly version of the plan with any children in your setting. As always you can contact the Policy, Advocacy and Campaigning team at email@example.com to discuss our work and this plan.