The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth recently published the sixth and final Annual Report for the ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures (BOBF) National Policy Framework for Children and Young People’. The Minister also published updates to the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures Indicator Set. The indicator set tracks progress for children and young people across the five national outcomes outlined in ‘Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures’. Together, the indicator set provides a snapshot of how active and healthy children and young people are; the extent to which they are achieving their full potential in learning and development; how safe and protected they are from harm; how economically secure they are; and how connected, respected and engaged they are in society.
Some key findings include:
- The rate of binge drinking reported by young people aged 15-24 years has decreased, from 58% in 2015 to 31% in 2021;
- The Leaving Cert completion rate increased from 90% for the 2007 post-primary school entry cohort to 92% for the 2014 cohort;
- The percentage of 0-14-year-olds and 15-24-year-olds experiencing consistent poverty was 8% and 6% respectively in 2020;
- The number of children aged 0-17 years experiencing homelessness increased from 880 in 2014 to 2,193 in 2021.
Early Childhood Ireland is particularly interested in the indicators under Outcome 2 which focuses on learning and development. The report spotlights two primary findings in our sector:
- The percentage of 3-year-olds in ‘pre-primary school education’ has increased from 46% in 2013 to 98% in 2018;
- The percentage of early childhood care and education services (ECCE) services that meet higher capitation criteria increased from 46% in 2014 to 61% in 2020.
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures also reiterates the Government’s commitment to early childhood care and education and recognises the importance of our sector in supporting children’s early cognitive, social and emotional development. The report states that “investment in early years care and education reaps significant dividends throughout a child’s life and to society as a whole”.
Early Childhood Ireland welcomes the Government’s ongoing commitment to Early Learning and Care. It is vital that every child has access to high-quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare. We will continue to work to highlight the importance and value of good quality ELC and SAC for children, families and society.
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, which launched in April 2014, represented the first overarching national children’s policy framework. It adopted a whole-of-government approach and was underpinned by a number of constituent strategies. We will continue to monitor the work of the Government to ensure that they deliver on their promises to the youngest members of our society.