Kilkenny People articles cited in report on Government's treatment of children

A PUBLICATION by the Children's Rights Alliance uses articles from this newspaper among its official sources to rate the Government's performance in keeping its promises to children.

A PUBLICATION by the Children's Rights Alliance uses articles from this newspaper among its official sources to rate the Government's performance in keeping its promises to children.

"Report Card 2011 – Is the Government Keeping its Promises to Children?", which was launched on Monday, "analyses the Government's performance across a range of sectors relating to children ... such as education, health, material wellbeing and safeguarding childhood".

In Report Card 2009, the Government was awarded a D grade, followed by a D- grade in Report Card 2010.

These four sectors were chosen, the report states, because: "We (the Children's Rights Alliance) feel that the commitments selected in these four broad areas are clear and measurable and have the potential to improve the lives and life chances of all children in Ireland."

The Report Card refers to commitments outlined in Government documents and official strategies, and four Kilkenny People articles from 2010 are among the references included in the document's supporting footnotes.

The Report Card's section 'Child Literacy and Language', for example, refers to the guideline that "Every child should leave primary school literate and numerate". It then cites the Kilkenny People article 'An hour a week can help change a child's life forever: tutor appeal' from August 9 to support the statement that: "Clearly, money spent on improving child literacy is money well spent and an investment in the country's future, reaping rewards for individual children and for society as a whole."

Under the section 'Children with Special Education Needs', it uses the Kilkenny People article from January 27 'Schools activities disrupted as special needs assistants work to rule' to support the figure that "The ongoing review has, thus far, resulted in an average 4.1% decrease in the number of SNAs in participating schools".

Under the section 'Childhood Obesity', it refers to the National Children's Strategy's aim that "Children will be supported to enjoy the optimum physical ... wellbeing", and lists among its sources the Kilkenny People article 'It's easy being 'green' as students walk to school' published on May 26.

"More positively." the Report Card states, "the survey found that 31% of primary school students and 40% of post-primary students now walk or cycle to school, up by 5% and 10% since 2004 respectively. This suggests some success for the Government's Smarter Travel policy, which aims to provide safe walking and cycling conditions to all schools by 2020 through and annual investment of e2 million until 2012."

Under the section 'Financial Support for Families', it cites the Kilkenny People article 'Loan sharks circle back-to-school parents', published on August 24, in relation to the statement: "The most striking figures relate to the concentration of child poverty in lone-parent households: in 2007, 65% of children in consistent poverty were in lone-parent families. Government policy has failed to solve the problem of poverty for this group; indeed, measures taken in Budget 2011 will make it worse".

"We represent over 90 member organisations that ... provide a range of services to children," a Children's Rights Alliance spokesperson said. "We want Report Card 2011 to represent an accurate account of services provided to children all over the country."

"Subsequent editions will revisit the same issues until the commitments are honoured," the report says. "They will also address new issues and commitments as they arise, for example it is likely that the 2012 edition of the Report Card will be tracking commitments in a new Programme for Government and a new National Children's Strategy."