A newly published report by Children’s Rights Alliance points to potential gaps in service provision for children and young people in Kildare.
That’s according to the Children’s Rights Alliance, which has published the first Annual Report of its Helpline and Legal Advice Clinics this week.
The Helpline and Legal Advice Clinics are part of the Access to Justice Initiative, which aims to ensure all children have access to free legal information and advice when they need it, regardless of their location, status or situation in Ireland.
Key findings include children as young as nine have contacted the Helpline; Twenty per cent of queries from children and young people related to Immigration. These have included incidences of racism, requests for information about transferring from a Direct Provision centre, advice on the rights of unaccompanied minors and the rights of undocumented children; and over 10 percent of calls relate to child protection. These have included issues parents have with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and how they have handled their case.
The report also found that 15 per cent of calls received by children and young people were about family law issues. Over a quarter of all queries from parents and guardians were on family law issues while recurring trends in education matters include disputes with schools and the difficulty securing places in appropriate schools. In the area of disability, the report states that many parents are in a situation where their child has been put on reduced hours in school.
Speaking at the report launch, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “Our Access to Justice Service helps children, young people and their families in Kildare and around Ireland through our Helpline and Legal Advice Clinics. It also identifies the areas in which families need further support such as disability, education, child protection, children in care, housing and homelessness.
“What this year’s Report points to are potentially significant problems within the most pivotal systems in our society: our legal system, our education system, our healthcare system. We are hearing from children, young people and parents who are struggling to navigate them.”
Commenting on the findings, Ms Ward added: “Young people are being pushed out of a family law system that is crying out for reform. The majority of calls we received on the Helpline related to family law. We have heard from young people worried that their voice was not being heard in family law proceedings”
“This was echoed by parents, who are often unaware of their child’s rights in access disputes. We have heard from both children and parents about the stress and anxiety access visits can cause when the child does not want to visit the other parent. We need courts that are family-friendly to provide necessary information and guidance for families in Kildare going through these proceedings.”
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