Policy brief: State of Nation’s Children report

Policy brief: State of Nation’s Children report
Early Childhood Ireland Policy Brief

In December 2022, the Government published the latest instalment of the State of the Nation’s Children (SONC) report. This report provides a comprehensive picture of the lives of children in Ireland, including key information on children’s health, behavioural and educational outcomes, and their relationships with their parents and their friends.

SONC is widely used as a resource by policy makers, researchers and civil society, and aims to inform Government policy on children, young people and families.

 

Demographics

The report’s findings included a range of sociodemographic statistics on children’s lives.  In 2022, it is estimated that there were 1,201,618 children living in Ireland. This accounts for 23.6% of the total population. Of the total child population in 2022, it is estimated that 614,835 were male and 586,783 were female. 16.5% of children lived in a lone-parent household. 19.5% of Traveller children, 20.9% of foreign national children, and 24.4% of children with a disability lived in lone-parent households.

In 2016, there were 14,223 Traveller children in Ireland. This accounted for 1.2% of the total child population and 45.9% of the total Traveller population.  In 2016, there were 79,536 foreign national children in Ireland. 29.2% of foreign national children reported their nationality as Polish. British or Northern Irish was the next most common nationality (11.4% of the total). There were also 75,963 children with a disability in Ireland, which equates to about 6.4% of the total child population. 61.9% of children with a disability were boys.

 

Safety

In 2018, 90.2% of children aged 10–17 reported feeling safe in the area where they live. When compared to all other children, Traveller children, immigrant children, and children with a disability or chronic illness were less likely to feel safe in the area where they live. Traveller children were the population group most likely to feel unsafe where they live.

 

Education

Of particular interest to our sector, the SONC report found that there were 3,973 pre-school services under contract to deliver the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme to 107,778 children in the 2021/22 pre-school year. ECCE provides children with their first formal experience of early learning before beginning primary school. It aims to narrow the gap in attainment between more and less advantaged children and is available free of charge to all children aged 2 years and 8 months. Of the settings contracted to deliver the ECCE programme, 34.8% had met the basic capitation status and 65.2% met the higher capitation status, before higher capitation was folded into Core Funding in late 2022.

Of interest to School Age Care providers, the SONC report found that 89.3% of children aged 10–17 reported having three or more friends of the same gender. Immigrant children were the population group with the lowest percentage who reported having three or more friends of the same gender.

31.1% of children in this age cohort also reported having been bullied at school in the past couple of months. Traveller children were the population group most likely to report having been bullied at school in the past couple of months.

 

Poverty

In 2021, 13.6% of children were considered to be at risk of poverty. Children have a higher risk of being poor than did the population as a whole. The highest “at risk of poverty” rate for children occurred among those aged 12–17. 18.5% of children in this age group were at risk of poverty in 2021. This compares with a rate of 13.3% for those aged 6–11 and a rate of 8.4% for those aged 5 and under. For households, those comprising 1 adult with children under 18 were most likely to be at risk of poverty, with a rate of 22.8%. This contrasts with a rate of 17.3% for households comprising 2 adults with 3+ children under 18, and with 7.0% of households comprising 2 adults with 1–2 children under 18 being at risk of poverty.

Children are also uniquely vulnerable to consistent poverty. Among the population as a whole, 4.0% experienced consistent poverty while 5.2% of children were experiencing consistent poverty in 2021.

The State of the Nation’s Children: Ireland Report (SONC) was introduced in 2006. Since then, it has been subsequently published on a biennial basis, in PDF and hardcopy format, compiling data from numerous domestic and international sources. All previous publications of the report are available here.

In line with the government’s Open Data Initiative, much of the data is available in an open, machine-readable format. It is produced by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth’s (DCEDIY) Research and Evaluation Unit. The majority of the data is housed in the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) PxStat system.

You can read the full report here. If you have any questions,  please get in touch with our Policy, Advocacy and Campaigning team at policy@earlychildhoodireland.ie

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