Burton gets 'F' grade on child welfare

Claire Murphy

CHILDREN'S Minister Frances Fitzgerald has received an A grade for work in the past year – but colleague Joan Burton has been given an F.

A mixed report card has been issued to the Government by the Children's Rights Alliance.

It says that while 'top of the class' Ms Fitzgerald has strengthened children's rights, others are failing miserably.

The Cabinet was awarded an 'F' for tackling of child poverty.

An alliance of more than 100 children's organisations said that the end-of-year report card on children's rights has been marked down within a year.

The Children's Rights Alliance said the worst offenders are the departments of Social Protection and Health.

The Fine Gael/Labour coalition are falling behind on their commitments and deserve a C grade, according to the Alliance.

The fall from last year's C+ grade will disappoint many in the year of the Children's Rights Referendum.

At the bottom of the class is the Department of Social Protection, which is failing in its responsibilities over child poverty, the organisation said.

Harsh measures in Budget 2013 hit the poorest families hardest and this grade reflects its impact on children.

And the Government has received a miserable E+ grade on its support of migrant or Traveller children.

The Department of Health is failing to perform in general and was given a D grade – there is an under-spend in mental health, inaction on alcohol misuse and delays in primary care and the Children's Hospital.

However, top of the class is Frances Fitzgerald, who gains an A grade for her work in strengthening children's constitutional rights.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children's Rights Alliance, said that the Report Card 2013 is a "mixed bag".

"Overall, Government has done worse this year, slipping down to a C grade, despite getting an A grade for the excellent work in strengthening children's rights in the Constitution," she said.

"But children are the real losers in Budget 2013 with cuts to Child Benefit not being reinvested in children's services and controversies and under-spend in health leading to major delays in health reform."