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In Ireland, Ombudsman says State must ensure children with disabilities are not be ‘left behind’ during pandemic

Boy with down syndrome with big glasses reading book

Irish children’s Ombudsman has said the State needs to ensure children with disabilities are not “left behind” with schools now reopened after the coronavirus lockdown.

“While most children are back in school, many services in particular for children with disabilities still have not resumed.” said Dr. Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman.

“Pandemic highlights that children who are in a vulnerable position to start with, as children with disabilities, children in poverty, children in Traveller are really at the bottom of the pile and find it much more difficult to survive through the COVID scenario.”

The Ombudsman’s annual report for 2019, published on September 16, shows an increase in the percentage of complaints received by the Children’s Ombudsman last year.

One-fifth of complaints related to family support care and protection and 14% of health services complaints. Just 5% of complaints to the office related to housing and planning.

“The rise in the percentage of complaints relating to education shows that while significant work and development has taken place in this area, there are still many children and families who are unhappy with the way the education system is supporting them,” Muldoon said.

“From my perspective as Ombudsman for Children, key issues for children and their rights that I want to see government and the State pursue during 2020 include making tangible progress on putting in place a mental health system for children that is fit for purpose and upholds children’s right to the highest attainable standard of mental health,” he said.

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