Political Manifestos

In the lead up to Election 2016, the ISPCC asked election candidates to make commitments under 5 key areas. The ISPCC has examined each Party’s election manifesto to see how our concerns are addressed:


Develop and expand the capacity and skills of An Garda Síochána; other investigatory and regulatory bodies; and prosecutors to tackle cyber-crime and harassment such as introducing new models of civil orders to deal with disputes over online posting.


While Labour does express a commitment to introduce stronger measures to combat cyberbullying, no specifics are given. Its cyber security focus is predominantly on cybercrime.


Put school guidance policies on anti-bullying on a statutory footing.


Legislation to make cyberbullying a specific criminal offence and work with the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection to establish new protocols for social media sites operating in Ireland to deal with bullying;

Provide training and support for schools to help them in identifying and tackling cyber bullying as part of the new mental health authority.

Renua
N/A

Social Democrats
N/A

People Before Profit
N/A

Child Protection and Welfare:

  • Extend Tusla’s remit to incorporate new services and build improved interagency working arrangements with other services;
  • Fund 500 additional social workers by 2020;
  • Ensure mandatory reporting of child protection concerns and require relevant groups to develop Child Safeguarding Statements;
  • Review the operation of the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) mechanism including clearly setting out the role and functions of GALs, as well as the qualifications and experience required to act as a GAL;
  • Develop an implementation plan within 6 months of entering government for the report and recommendations of the independent Child Care Law Reporting Project;
  • Develop a new state-of the- art Family and Children’s Court complex in Dublin.

Children with Disabilities:

  • Extend the entitlement to a medical card to the approximate 10,000 children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance;
  • Give adults and children with disabilities and their families the option of Individualised Budgets to choose the services they want and need;
  • Ensure that adequate and early post-primary transition planning takes place for all school leavers and equality of opportunity in accessing further education;
  • Continue to develop the scheme to ensure access to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programmes for young children with disabilities;
  • Increase numbers of SNAs from 10,575 to 12,040 and resource teachers from 5,175 to 7,452 in 2016;
  • Consult with stakeholders to see how best to progress sections of the EPSEN Act that were introduced on a non-statutory basis;
  • Deliver on roadmap to the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Disability Inclusion Strategy.

Traveller Children:

  • Publish a revised National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy, aimed at improving the lives of members of the Traveller and Roma communities.

Children in Conflict with the Law:

  • Transfer children detention schools to Tusla;
  • Establish a single national directorate to respond to the challenges and needs of our most troubled and troublesome teens, bringing together child detention, youth justice, special care and targeted therapeutic and support services;
  • Introduce targeted initiatives, involving Gardaí, Tusla and other agencies, to deal with repeat and prolific youth offenders, including, where appropriate, the use of extended detention with educational and therapeutic supports;
  • Pilot a scheme of intensive bail supervision to support vulnerable youths;
  • Drive new therapeutic intervention services at the children detention school in Oberstown, such as psychology, speech and language therapy and referral to addiction services further.

Mental Health:

  • Invest an additional €3m to increase the number of NEPS psychologists from 167 to 209;
  • Continue to resource adult and child mental health services in the community, ensuring timely access to services for all vulnerable groups, including LGBT people;
  • Extend youth mental health services, such as Jigsaw, which is free to access and does not require GP referral;
  • Build on reduced waiting times for child and adolescent services.

Child Protection and Welfare:

  • Greater integration between education and mental health services and Tusla;
  • Review high turnover of staff within child protection services and explore ways to overcome work burnout;
  • Fully commence all sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

Children with Disabilities:

  • From September 2017, mainstream the pilot model of allocating resource teachers;
  • Bring schools currently under-resourced up to the level of support they need;
  • Improve the integration of therapy supports in school settings;
  • Expand the number of educational psychologists;
  • Increase the percentage of college students with a disability to 8% of all new entrants;
  • Sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into law within the first year of Government.

Traveller Children:

  • Continue to consult with Traveller NGOs on the completion and implementation of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy to address the accommodation, health, education and other issues faced by the Traveller community.

Children in Conflict with the Law:
N/A

Mental Health:

  • Extend counselling in Primary Care service to all 16-25 year olds upon completion of eMental Health Course and with a GP’s recommendation;
  • Dual approach to mental health and addiction, via the appointment of a new HSE National Director for Alcohol and Addiction;
  • Establish a registration and licencing system for all practicing counsellors, therapists and psychologists;
  • Extend opening hours of Community Mental Health Centres (late evenings and through weekends);
  • Extend the Jigsaw service to all major towns and cities.

Child Protection and Welfare:

  • Increase the number of Tusla inspectors by 30%;
  • Move to a person-centred approach to vetting;
  • Introduced time limited passport-type vetting documents to ensure continuity of monitoring but not requiring a person to be re-vetted for new positions within the time limit;
  • Create a dedicated family court system;
  • Provide age appropriate sexual violence, education and prevention programmes for primary and secondary schools;
  • Put school guidelines on bullying, diversity, mental health and suicide awareness on a statutory footing.

Children with Disabilities:

  • Give the Department of An Taoiseach specific responsibility for Disability Inclusion and driving the cross-departmental National Disability Strategy;
  • Establish an Oireachtas Committee on Disability Inclusion;
  • Extend an automatic full medical card to every child qualifying for Domiciliary Care Allowance;
  • Prioritise entitlement to an Individual Education Plan under the EPSEN Act 2004 and increase funding for the provision of resource teachers, SNAs, educational psychologists and equipment.

Traveller Children:

  • Recognise the ethnicity status of the Travelling community, including their right to traveller specific accommodation.

Children in Conflict with the Law:

  • Ensure Gardaí are adequately skilled to protect and support vulnerable people.

Mental Health:

  • Put school guidelines on bullying, diversity, mental health and suicide awareness on a statutory footing.
  • 10% increase in the number of psychologists in NEPS;
  • Increase mental health budget;
  • Complete rollout of the Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses (SCAN);
  • Recruit (five in year one) mental health nurses to liaise specifically with homeless services;
  • End the admission of children to adult psychiatric units;
  • Increase number of inpatient child and adolescent beds;
  • Increase funding for counselling in primary care.

Child Protection and Welfare:

  • Increase Tusla funding by €15m to equip the agency to fully perform its duties;
  • Ensure LGBT students are treated equally in every school.

Children with Disabilities:

  • Provide a medical card for all children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance;
  • Establish on-site early intervention teams in primary schools to help children with developmental difficulties;
  • Fully restore resource teaching hours and ensure the SNA role is developed into that of an Edu-Carer;
  • Hire an additional 100 psychologists;
  • Transfer disability policy to the Department of Social Protection and create a Minister for Disability at the cabinet table;
  • Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the end of 2016.

Traveller Children:

  • Restore the Visiting Teacher Service for Traveller Education including the appointment of 41 additional teachers.

Children in Conflict with the Law:
N/A

Mental Health:

  • Earmark total additional funding of €187.5m for increased spending on mental health;
  • Establish a new statutory National Mental Health Authority to lead an all-out national programme to promote positive attitudes to mental health and reduce incidents of self-harm and suicide;
  • Guarantee a guidance counselling service in every secondary school;
  • Hire an additional 100 psychologists.

Child Protection and Welfare:

  • Put Children First on a Statutory Footing;
  • Fully implement the Ryan Report;
  • Review the “Child Care Act, Children Act, and Children’s Right Referenda” to ensure they are implemented in full;
  • Review current services for young adults leaving the care system;
  • Support the use of soft information in the vetting process;
  • Establish (pilot) an Assisted Families Unit (akin to the Troubled Family Unit in the UK) involving the allocation of a dedicated family worker to identified families who would liaise with the relevant state agencies and operate like an expanded public health nurse system.

Children with Disabilities:

  • Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Set up a new unit dedicated to people with disabilities under the aegis of the Ombudsman’s office, which will play a key role in enforcing the rights of children with disabilities in Irish schools;
  • Multi-disciplinary support structures for schools (educational psychologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists) to be made available to clusters of schools based on need.

Traveller Children:
N/A

Children in Conflict with the Law:

  • Review the Children Act to ensure it is implemented in full;
  • Make parents responsible for their child’s anti-social behaviour/criminality.

Mental Health:

  • Increase the share of the health budget for mental health services to 7%;
  • Systematic intervention amongst young people to teach them how to deal with mental and physical health issues from an early age;
  • Ensure that the mental health of all children and adolescents is supported, including access to mental health promotion and early intervention supports, community-based support, and accessible and holistic mental health services and supports which minimise the use of in-patient beds, with a commitment to ending the inappropriate admission of children and adolescents to adult wards within the first year.
  • Social care provision needs to be audited and restructured.

Child Protection and Welfare:
N/A

Children with Disabilities:

  • Ring-fence specialised mental health funding for persons with physical and mental disabilities;
  • Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a matter of urgency;
  • Develop a UNCRPD national implementation plan, with monitoring, reporting and enforcement procedures.

Traveller Children:
N/A

Children in Conflict with the Law:
N/A

Mental Health:

  • Full implementation of the 2006 “Vision for Change” (cornerstone of mental health plan);
  • Prioritise early intervention including the extension of successful infant mental health and well-being programmes;
  • Introduce an educational curriculum to proactively develop children’s mental health and well-being;
  • Particular focus on mental health and counselling services for adolescents;
  • In recognition of the importance of parental mental health to children, special focus to be given to vulnerable new parents, in the allocation of resources;
  • Restore guidance counsellors to all secondary schools;
  • Proactive approach towards suicide prevention and mental health in general and increased responsiveness towards those risks;
  • Broader approach to the treatment of mental health issues, to include approaches such as CBT and mindfulness;
  • Ring-fence specialised mental health funding for the most “at risk” groups, including: young parents; the Travelling Community; asylum seekers; the LGBT community; and persons with physical and mental disabilities;
  • Realign the mental health and addiction services of the HSE to tackle the interrelated issues of addiction and mental health in a complimentary fashion.


Child Protection and Welfare:

  • Ensure out-of-hour social work cover from Tusla for childcare emergencies. 

Children with Disabilities:

  • Immediate ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and bring all legislation into conformity therewith;
  • Reverse all the cuts that have been made to persons with disabilities under consecutive governments;
  • Increase funding for disability services and improve the quality of services for people with disabilities;
  • Provide a universal health service free at the point of delivery;
  • Ensure publically owned and funded disability services;
  • Ensure teachers and SNAs have a maximum class contact time of 18 hours per week;
  • Improve liaison with and availability of school supports such as guidance counsellors, resource teachers, SNAs and NEPS psychologists. 

Traveller Children:

  • Recognition of traveller ethnicity by the State;

Children in Conflict with the Law:
N/A

Mental Health:

  • Increase funding for Mental Health Services with at least 25% of the mental health budget going to child mental health;
  • Implement “Vison for Change” staffing requirements (children’s service at 50%);
  • Develop a system of 24-hour access to emergency beds in Children’s wards with trained staff for mental health emergencies and ensure out-of-hour social work cover from Tusla for childcare emergencies;
  • Improve liaison with and availability of school supports such as guidance counsellors, resource teachers, SNAs and NEPS psychologists;
  • Reduce the overreliance on prescription drugs in mental health services and improve access to alternative supports.  

 

Homelessness:
(Suite of measures to alleviate the housing and homelessness crises)

  • Boost affordable housing supply for low-income families.

Direct Provision:

  • Reform the Direct Provision system, with particular focus on families and children.

Homelessness:
(Suite of measures to alleviate the housing and homelessness crises)

  • Prioritise families that are homeless;
  • Supports to keep families in the private rented sector;
  • Provide housing as quickly as possible to take families out of emergency accommodation.

Direct Provision:

  • No new commitment. Reiteration of the implementation of some of the Working Group Report recommendations including the waiving of prescription charges for people living in Direct Provision and increasing the allowance paid to children living in Direct Provision centres (additional €6).

Homelessness:
(Suite of measures to alleviate the housing and homelessness crises)

  • Frontload funding to Local Authorities with a good track record of drawing down funds and providing Traveller accommodation, with penalties for those who refuse to build needed Traveller accommodation.

Direct Provision:

  • End Direct Provision and replace it with a no-for-profit model based on integration and human rights best practice.

Homelessness:
(Suite of measures to alleviate the housing and homelessness crises)

  • To provide stability and certainty for families with children, introduce legislation that will enshrine a long term “family tenure” lease to reform Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Bill 2004. Specifically, this involves replacing the 4 year tenancy cycle with a move towards indefinite leases which will enhance security of tenure;
  • Failings in local Traveller accommodation plans will be addressed in legislation.

Direct Provision:

  • Raise the allowance for children living in Direct Provision from €9.60 up to €29.80 as per Working Group Report recommendation.

Homelessness:
(Very vague-nothing child/family specific)

Direct Provision:
N/A

Homelessness:
(Suite of measures to alleviate the housing and homelessness crises)

Direct Provision:

  • Short to medium term goal to end Direct Provision.
  • Ring-fence specialised mental health funding for asylum seekers

Homelessness:

  • Establish an Independent National Housing Agency to oversee the delivery of safe and culturally appropriate traveller accommodation;
  • Immediately declare a national housing crisis to allow the State access the funds needed;
  • Impose moratorium on evictions where owners of a family home can show genuine distress;
  • Introduce a homeless charter that gives people in emergency accommodation an option to leave after 6 weeks. 

Direct Provision:

  • End direct provision.

 

 

  • Support Local Drug Taskforce projects for young people including targeted drug prevention and awareness programmes;
  • Drive new therapeutic intervention services at the children detention school in Oberstown, such as psychology, speech and language therapy and referral to addiction services further. 

  • Develop a new National Drugs Strategy;
  • Dual approach to addiction and mental health, via the appointment of a new HSE National Director for Alcohol and Addiction;
  • Put Drugs Court on a statutory footing and expand its remit;
  • Establish a twin-track model, akin to the Portuguese model, where the resources of the criminal justice system are targeted at pushers while, simultaneously, measures are taken to reduce demand for drugs and medical supports are focussed on victims of drug abuse.

N/A

  • Create a Minister for Drugs;
  • Establish an Office of Alcohol Control aimed at holistically addressing the diverse drivers and consequences of harmful alcohol consumption in Ireland.

N/A

  • Fundamental review of drug treatment services;
  • Enhanced role for drug and alcohol task forces;
  • Realign the mental health and addiction services of the HSE to tackle the interrelated issues of addiction and mental health in a complimentary fashion.

  • Overhaul what and how children and young people are taught about drugs in schools, ensuring accurate, factual information is provided about the effect of drugs, their consumption and contents, and the potential dangers and realities of drug consumption.

 

N/A

The passage of the Children’s Rights referendum will have implications for all future legislation.

Reference to best interests only with respect to Tusla and its infrastructure to help to look after the best interests of children and give them a fair chance at life.

N/A

Review the “Child Care Act, Children Act, and Children’s Right Referenda” to ensure they are implemented in full.


N/A


N/A

 

 


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ISPCC,
29 Lower Baggot Street,
Dublin 2,
Ireland

Email: info@ispcc.ie
Website: www.ispcc.ie

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