Posted on May 30, 2017
Two anonymous donors with funds at The Community Foundation for Ireland have co-funded the Child Refugee Development Project, which has been developed by the Children’s Rights Alliance.
The project aims to end direct provision as we know it for the 1,400 children currently in direct provision centres in Ireland and to ensure that it is appropriate for children and young people. This will be achieved by creating a two-year post involving a highly qualified advocacy officer that will co-ordinate and run a series of campaign activities within the Children’s Rights Alliance.
The Child Refugee Development Project aims to secure the following goals.
1. Improve Conditions in Direct Provision Accommodation for Children
National standards for child and family appropriate accommodation and independent inspectorate
There are currently no national standards for direct provision accommodation in Ireland which leads to huge variation in the treatment of children and families in direct provision. In addition, Government policy around selecting accommodation for asylum seekers does not take account of the specific needs for children, young people and families. There is no independent inspectorate established that has a role in overseeing the implementation of these standards.
- Self-Catering and Family Friendly Accommodation
Families are often living in hotels, in overcrowded conditions, with no cooking facilities. Families should be accommodated in self-catering accommodation that respects the privacy of family life.
- National Welfare Policy with Tusla – Child and Family Agency
A national welfare policy between Tusla (Child and Family Agency) and the Department of Justice and Equality is in development. However, this policy needs to be preventative and actively ensure that children are not exposed to abuse and neglect.
- Food Poverty
Hunger is a significant problem in direct provision due to the fact that some providers are not meeting the nutritional needs of children. A policy needs to be put in place to protect children against hunger and food poverty.
2. Increase Welfare Payments for Children in Direct Provision
- Increase in the Direct Provision Payment for Children
The direct provision payment for children needs to increase so families can meet the costs of everyday life. Children now only receive €15.60 per week meaning that many children do not have a normal childhood and suffer extreme exclusion.
3. Ensure the International Protection System in Ireland is Child-Proofed
- Developing a Child-Friendly Protection System for Children
Children seeking asylum need to be prioritized and the protection process needs to be designed in a child friendly manner. The Alliance needs to work with and support the leading stakeholders (the UNHCR, Government, Legal Aid Board, International Protection Tribunal, NGOs, Legal Advisors) to adapt the protection process for children.
- Training for Officials and NGOs Working with Asylum Seeking Children
All professionals working with and for children should receive necessary interdisciplinary training on the rights and needs of children of different age groups, and on proceedings that are adapted to them. Professionals having direct contact with children should also be trained in communicating with them at all ages and stages of development, and with children in situations of particular vulnerability.
- Accessible and Child Friendly Information for Asylum Seeking Children
Information and advice on the International Protection System should be provided to children in a manner adapted to their age and maturity, in a language which they can understand and which is gender and culture sensitive. Child-friendly materials containing the relevant information should be made available and widely distributed, and special information services for children such as specialised websites and helplines established. The Children’s Rights Alliance will work with existing stakeholders to ensure that this information is produced.