Barnardos: 1 In 7 Children In Offaly Are Lost

Barnardos children’s charity has launched its new LOST CHILDHOOD Campaign.  In Ireland 1 in 7 children are lost to homelessness, to poverty and to neglect – this equates to 3,018 children in Offaly.  The children’s charity, which works with more than 15,000 families annually, wants to engage individuals, other organisations and the Government to tackle this injustice. They proposed a range of solutions that if actioned in the short-term, will change the lives of children in Ireland forever.

Barnardos LOST childhood campaign highlights the sheer terror and panic that follows when a child is lost in a public space, and the reaction of society as they work hard to find that child.  But what is society doing about the children lost in plain sight every day, those lost through no fault of their own to homelessness, to poverty, and to neglect?

Already, hundreds of supporters have joined the charity by signing up at and promising to collectively fight for these children, to challenge the government to implement short term practical steps and finally ensure children are seen as the political priority they should be. You can add your name to the campaign at

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said: “We are standing here today because enough is enough. You only need look at the thousands of children living in hotels or in overcrowded accommodation without the space they need to live, play and grow, the thousands more living in poverty, and those who are languishing on waiting lists for essential health services such as speech and therapy and mental health services – to see that children and childhood are not a priority in Ireland. How is this ok? How do we as a country think this is ok?

“No child should worry about whether they will wake up in the same bed tomorrow as they did today. No child should feel unloved or uncared for. Where a child lives or the amount of money that their parents have should not determine a child’s access to health care, pre-school, education, or protection. Yet 1 in 7 children, that’s over 170,000 childhoods and futures, are being written for them through circumstances beyond their control, and because of poor policy making. We need to shine a light on the experiences of these children, highlighting this injustice at a national level and demand real solutions.

“For too long children have not been a priority politically, and childhood itself has not been valued as it should be – as the most important time of a person’s life. We as a society have a responsibility to ensure every child can reach their potential. We invite you to join a community of individuals, parents, local policy makers, charities and organisations to work together to draw a line in the sand and demand change for these children.

“The practical things we are looking for, immediately, are essential public services. The cost of which is less than €250 million, and the absence of which is the reason why so many children are lost. Not the billions that are proposed to be spent on metros and motorways, just the beginnings of an investment into the future of our children.”

  1. STARTING OFF AT HOME: Ensure all children have a good start in life by introducing a dedicated child and family public health nurse system with guaranteed home visits.
  2. QUALITY FAMILY TIME: Support all parents to be the best they can be through providing greater availability of timely community and public based family support services.
  3. DURING PRE-SCHOOL: Guarantee all children have access to quality early childhood care and education by extending the ECCE scheme for an additional year, opening it to all two year olds.
  4. GOING TO BIG-SCHOOL: Begin to fulfil every child’s right to free primary education by providing free school books to all primary school children.
  5. BEING HEALTHY TO GROW: Fulfil every child’s right to quality healthcare by providing fully staffed primary health care teams across the country at a ratio of 1 for every 1500 children.
  6. SOMEWHERE SUITABLE TO LIVE: Guarantee that no child spends more than 6 months in emergency accommodation and substantially increase the building of social housing to provide long-term solutions for children and family experiencing homelessness.

Barnardos Tullamore Project Leader Patricia Maguire spoke of the need to prioritise childhood: “Childhood is short, but the experiences we have in these few short years shape us for the rest of our lives. All children must be guaranteed to be able to reach their own potential. But we see daily that when a child’s basic needs are not met for an extended period because of the lack of a secure home, a caring environment, developmental support or sufficient healthcare, the consequences will be felt for the rest of their life. All parents need support at different times, some more than others but we know that when parents are supported their children fare better too. It is a win win and needs to be recognised more.”

Barnardos, which has over 40 services across the country including Tullamore, Athlone and Edenderry, works to transform children’s lives through individual and group work. We provide emotional and practical supports to parents and work to provide stability to families lost to an unjust society, and we challenge that society where it fails our children.  To drive the change that is needed to ensure no child is lost and give every child in Ireland a chance to reach their full potential, join Barnardos campaign at

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