Social Democrats Spokesperson for Children Jennifer Whitmore, and TD for Wicklow, calls for the establishment of a Transition Task Force to develop a plan specifically for children and young people to transition out of Covid-19 restrictions.
Deputy Whitmore stated:
“People often forget that children and young people have also been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. While most children are doing ok, there are many children and young people who have been made more vulnerable by COVID-19 restrictions and we need to make sure that the necessary supports are in place for them now, and as we come out of this crisis.
“For that reason, I am calling on the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to establish a Transition Task Force that involves various Departments including the Department of Health, Education, Justice and Children’s Rights organisations. This group would prioritise the needs of vulnerable children and make sure that additional resources are made available to be directed to those children most at need.
“The so-called usual ‘summer slide’ is being mirrored in a ‘Covid Slide’. Children missing out on education during the summer months face challenges returning to school creating an educational gap for some children. It is disproportionately felt by children and young people who are already at a disadvantage, whether educationally or socially. The gap will widen with the closure of schools due to Covid-19, unless children can make up for the lost time. Closing this gap would be a priority for a taskforce.
“Question such as how our children will reintegrate into the school community, how we can make sure every child and family has access to mental health and wraparound supports if they need them, or whether the curriculum will need to be revised to take into account the 6-month educational gap concern all parents and will need solutions.
“Ideas that have worked in other countries could be considered by the taskforce, including schools opening for children currently under the care of TUSLA, or those that require additional educational supports or children of frontline workers.
“Dealing proactively with the transition and legacy issues of Coivid-19 for children will ensure that the experiences of lockdown do not have long-term consequences for children. We must address the challenges head on, particularly for those children and young people made most vulnerable by this crisis” concluded Whitmore.
Deputy Whitmore will raise the issue directly with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs including today in the Dail during Statements on Children.