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Barnardos calls for reform

Barnardos has called for a new Department of Social Care to be established.

At the launch of its Children's Manifesto this month, the children's charity said that drastic change was needed in the child welfare and protection system and that a new Department was necessary to ensure such services were accountable at Cabinet level.

Launching the charity's priority issues for Election 2011, CEO Fergus Finlay said that recent years had sufficiently highlighted the consequences of overstretched, under-resourced services for children at risk of harm: " It is clear to anyone working with children and families in need of welfare and protection services that major reform of the systems in place is long overdue. A new Department for Social Care would bring social services to the Cabinet table for the first time in a long time."

Barnardos also called on a new Government to protect children from the recession. Norah Gibbons, director of advocacy, said: " The last Budget pushed children and families already living in disadvantage to the brink. Children have experienced cuts to their family social welfare payments and to frontline services that they rely on, such as special needs assistants and speech and language therapists. The State will inevitably pay the price for these cuts in the medium and long term. Problems don't go away unless the right support intervenes at the right time."

Mother & Babies