Teachers must receive Government funding to continue delivering mental health supports in schools – Children’s Futures Campaign
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The Children’s Futures campaign are today calling on the Government to provide ringfenced funding that will address the impact of the pandemic on children and young people’s wellbeing. Children’s Futures is a coalition group of advocacy organisations working to limit the negative impact of lockdown on a generation of children and young people.
According to the Children’s Futures campaign, the recent launch of the CLASS scheme was a welcome development in terms of providing additional teaching support for children. However, the Government must now prioritise providing ringfenced funding for wellbeing support in schools, specifically in-school counselling and therapeutic supports, and the mainstreaming of wellbeing programmes.
Speaking, Suzanne Connolly CEO of Barnardos said: “The Oireachtas Committee on Education recently published a set of recommendations to address bullying and the impact on mental health in schools. The Committee recognised that a wide range of actors are needed to support children and young people’s wellbeing. This includes the provision of onsite emotional counselling and therapeutic supports and these should be incorporated into a reconstituted and expanded National Educational Psychological and Counselling Service (NEPCS). The Committee also recognised the role of organisations in the wider community by recommending the mainstreaming of programmes such as Barnardos Roots of Empathy and Friendship Group as a means of promoting wellbeing.”
Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre said: “Young people have highlighted the impact of the pandemic on their mental health in research carried out last year by SpunOut.ie and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. The closure of schools and other public health restrictions have impacted on routines, increased feelings of boredom and isolation. This coupled with a reduction in services has meant there is an even clearer need now to fund services and supports that promote wellbeing and support mental health.”
Aine Lynch, CEO of the National Parents Council added: “A survey conducted by ourselves and Walk in My Shoes found that 20 per cent of parents sought some form of mental health support during the pandemic with 55 per cent indicating that the are worried about the long-term impact of the pandemic on their children. The fact that parents are proactively asking for help for their children is a positive development and the government must respond by providing increased interventions.”
Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance concluded: “The Government’s Education’s Wellbeing Policy and Framework recognises that schools are not just a place to learn, they also support a child to reach their full potential in terms of physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. The Children’s Futures campaign has been vocal in calling for schools to remain open, in line with public health advice, during the pandemic. While our schools are now open, many children and young people are struggling emotionally. The school community has a vital role to play in the national Covid19 recovery and we need to make sure that resources are made available to implement the Government’s Wellbeing Policy.”
The #ChildrensFuturesIRL Campaign was established early in 2021 to work with Government, education partners and others to secure a cross-party, cross-sector public commitment to prioritise reopening – and keeping open – schools in line with public health advice and to limit the negative impact of lockdown on a generation of children and young people. Current members include founding members AsIAm, Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, Inclusion Ireland, and National Parents Council Primary, as well as Pavee Point, Children’s Books Ireland, Dyslexia Association of Ireland, Foróige, SpunOut.ie, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and UNICEF Ireland.