Minister Fitzgerald welcomes new statistics on children in Ireland
Minister publishes State of the Nation's Children Report: Ireland 2012
7th March 2013
- Number of children in Ireland increased by 13.4% since 2002
- Ireland now has the highest proportion of children in the EU
- Large increase in proportion of children who have never smoked
- Significant decrease in number of babies born to teenage girls
- 83.6% of newborn visited by a Public Health Nurse within 48 hours
- Number of children on a hospital waiting list decreased by 45.1%
Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has today launched the State of the Nation's Children Report: Ireland 2012.
This Report, which is the fourth in a biennial series, presents administrative, survey and Census data on children’s lives; and was compiled by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in association with the Central Statistics Office and the Health Promotion Research Centre at National University of Ireland, Galway.
Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the Report stating: “this Report is generally very positive. It highlights Ireland as a great place to grow up in”.
The Minister added that between the ‘State of the Nation's Children Report’ and the ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ longitudinal study, Irish policy-makers now have access to a wealth of cutting-edge research on Irish children’s lives and experiences, which cumulatively “paint a detailed and complex picture of the contemporary Irish childhood.”
The report indicated that in 2011, there were 1,148,687 children in Ireland, accounting for 25% of the population and that the number of children in Ireland increased by 13.4% between 2002 and 2011. Ireland now has the highest proportion of children of any EU country.
Minister Fitzgerald stated: “this is an immensely valuable national resource offering unprecedented potential for Ireland’s future.
However Minister Fitzgerald noted that Ireland’s increasing child and youth population also poses significant challenges for Government in planning for the future, including increased costs relating to childcare, schools and youth services.
The Report further indicated an increase in population among specific groups and categories of children.
- The number of Traveller children is up 30.3%;
- The number of foreign national children is up 49.5%;
- The number of children in lone-parent households is up 10.2%; and
- The number of children in the care of the HSE increased by approximately 16% between 2007 & 2011.
The Minister stated that “these changes clearly present challenges both to policy makers and service providers, in particular in relation to the provision of targeted programmes and services in areas such as child welfare and social inclusion.”
Minister Fitzgerald added that “the increased population figures strengthen the need for a much sharper focus in Ireland on early intervention and early year’s services with a view to improving children outcomes and future prospects.
The Minister added that “investment in early years can save millions for future generations.”
Today’s launch follows yesterday’s address by Minister Fitzgerald to Seanad Éireann where she said the Government should reassess the overall level of public spending on early intervention programmes and seek to increase the proportion of public monies spent on direct service provision for children, in particular given the proven economic benefits of investments in early intervention.
Positive health-related findings
Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the report’s findings relating to improved health outcomes for children & young people. These include:
- The proportion of children who have never smoked cigarettes has increased from 50.8% in 1998 to 73.5% in 2010;
- The proportion of children who have never had an alcoholic drink has increased from 40.0% in 2002 to 54.1% in 2010;
- The number of babies born to teenage girls decreased by 36% between 2007 and 2011.
The Report also outlines a number of welcome improvements in healthcare service provision:
- In 2011, 83.6% of newborn babies were visited by a Public Health Nurse within 48 hours of discharge from hospital for the first time, up from 73.2% in 2007.
- The number of children on a hospital waiting list awaiting treatment has decreased by 45.1% between 2009 and 2012.
The Minister particularly noted the finding that the number of children on a hospital waiting list for 12 months or more saw a dramatic decrease from 372 in 2011 to 16 in 2012. The Minister commented that this indicates the success of this Government’s priority efforts to reduce hospital waiting lists.
Minister Fitzgerald commended all the health care practitioners who worked so hard in recent years to disrupt negative trends and to improve outcomes and services for children, young people and their parents.