Impact of homelessness on kids 'catastrophic'
The development of children is being hampered by growing up in emergency accommodation, it has been claimed.
The Children's Rights Alliance, published its annual report card yesterday, giving the government a D+ grade in their performance on children's rights - the lowest in six years.
At the launch, the government was heavily criticised for how it is dealing with the homeless crisis and the rights of Travellers.
The report came shortly after it was revealed there were a total of 7,167 homeless adults and children in emergency accommodation across Ireland in January.
Chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance Tanya Ward said children are missing out on normal childhoods.
Ms Ward said: "The impact of this is catastrophic on every level from children's health, education and development.
"Toddlers are experiencing delays in reaching developmental milestones, such as walking because they are living in such cramped conditions.
"Children have to travel long distances to school. Families have nowhere to store or cook food and are going hungry.
"Some families are forced to live in unhygienic conditions with insect infestations, mould and used syringes left in bedrooms.
Ms Ward told the Irish Independent the fall from a C grade to a D in the space of a year is "unacceptable".
She added: "The reason why the government were given such a low grade is because things have seriously deteriorated for children, especially in the area of child homelessness.
"Progress of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill has been stalled," she said. Recommendations from the McMahon report are yet to be put into action, leaving girls and boys in Direct Provision without their basic needs met."
The Report Card reveals how just one 24-hour state service for victims of sexual assault under the age of 14 exists and is located in Galway.
The service has had to close temporarily twice in the last two years due to lack of funding.
Child victims of crime also face significant delays in accessing counselling support services.