Government gets low marks on children's rights as 7,000 wait to see psychologist
Nearly 7,000 children under the age of 17 were waiting for a community-based psychology appointment at the end of last July, according to the Children's Rights Alliance (CRA).
A third had been waiting for over a year, an Alliance report has revealed.
Its figures showed that overall four out of five patients waiting for psychologist appointments are under the age of 15.
The Alliance yesterday published its annual report card for 2018, which grades the Government's performance each year against the commitments made to children in the Programme for Government. This is the 10th report card to be published.
Despite the publication of the Youth Mental Health Taskforce report, mental health once again got a low grade - 'D plus' - due to the number of children on waiting lists for community mental health supports. It was a marginal improvement on last year's 'D minus' grading.
A total of 18 areas were included in the report card, with the Government being awarded its lowest grade - an 'E' for child and family homelessness.
The alliance, which unites over 100 organisations, warned that family homelessness was now a "national emergency".
The report is graded by an independent panel of experts, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Ms Catherine McGuinness.
The Government was awarded an overall 'C minus' in relation to progress on its commitments to children, an increase on last year's 'D plus'.
Tanya Ward, chief executive of the CRA, said: "There were 3,333 children living in homeless accommodation in November 2017, an increase of 33pc since 2016.
"This is a shocking figure by any measure. If you go back 10 years to when we first started publishing our annual report cards, child homelessness happened rarely; now in the aftermath of the crash, it is a national emergency."
She also highlighted failings in mental health care for children, stating: "Childhood is so short, and yet we are expecting children to wait for over a year to have basic healthcare needs met."
In relation to the issue of childminding, the score awarded was downgraded from a 'C' last year to a 'D' in the latest report because at least 35,000 children spend time in unregulated childminding.
It found that only 122 childminders, out of an estimated 22,000, are registered with Tusla the child and family agency.