In the years since the last Children’s Report, children’s lives in Ireland have undoubtedly changed significantly. As with the rest of the world, the Covid 19 pandemic hit children in Ireland hard,
and the full impact of public health restrictions on their education, health and mental health, family and other personal relationships is still largely unknown and emerging. However, other
issues that pre-existed this pandemic have also had an impact on children’s lives. These include an ongoing housing crisis that has seen many children, with their families, experience insecure
housing arrangements and homelessness; a shortage of child and adolescent mental health services; delays in assessment and service delivery for children with disabilities; prolonged asylum
processes; and discrimination against minority groups.
On the more positive side, Ireland saw the introduction and implementation of its first National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making 2015-2020, which aimed to ensure children’s voices were heard as part of decision-making processes. Ireland also published its first LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020, recognising the challenges that many children and young people of varying sexual orientation face and their need for supports. The full enactment of the Children First Act 2015 in 2017 has increased awareness of the need to report child protection and welfare concerns and mandated a wide range of professionals to do so. While the pandemic saw schools close for prolonged periods, their safe reopening and recommencement of classroom-based education was a priority for the Government.
Within this broad context, children in Ireland continued to live their lives, having varying advantages and facing different challenges. It is within this context that this Children’s Report was prepared. A survey and consultations with children took place between May 2021 and March 2022. It reflects children’s views and experience at a time when the pandemic was abating in Ireland and public health restrictions were easing gradually. Children’s lives were becoming more ‘normal’ again. However, throughout the preparation of this report, the presence and impact of the pandemic loomed large. Although the new normal for children is somewhat different from their lives pre-Covid 19, many of the issues they are concerned with are very familiar and long-standing.