Report highlights child deprivation


Over a quarter of all Irish children are affected by some form of deprivation, according to a new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

In houses experiencing deprivation, many parents are diverting resources or are otherwise able to protect against deprivation specific to children.

Instability in the parents' relationship increases the risk of child-specific deprivation, even in households that are not otherwise deprived, the research finds.

Deprivation is measured by a household's access to basic items such as food, clothing and heating. Child-specific deprivation differs in being based on factors such as having adequate food and clothing, books, toys and games, as well as school trips and doctor/dentist visits.

According to the ESRI, mothers' employment is important in protecting children from child-specific deprivation, while all forms of deprivation are lower where the parents have high levels of educational attainment.

Launching the report this morning, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton noted that the data used in the report related to 2009, when the previous Government was in power. However, she said she remained concerned at the findings and added that addressing issues of child poverty was a Government priority.

"The report supports international and national evidence that addressing poverty requires a multi-dimensional long-term strategy that cuts across many policy domains. I look forward to working with colleagues across Government, to not only address child poverty but also promoted the longer-term well-being of children and improve children's life chances."

The study by Dorothy Watson, Bertrand Maitre and Christopher Whelan also identifies some gaps in access to GP and dental services, affecting small numbers of children outside the very lowest income groups.

In 2010, 8 per cent of children were in consistent poverty, compared to 6 per cent of the general population. Some 30 per cent of children were in households experiencing deprivation compared to 23 per cent of the general population.

The report says 13 per cent of children aged two to 15 experience child-specific deprivation.