Child carer figures shocking – Crowe
Local Sinn Fein TD Seán Crowe has described as “shocking” census figures that confirmed that over 4,200 children provide care to "a loved one" or elderly neighbour in Ireland.
The Tallaght based Deputy was commenting on the findings from a dedicated question on young carers that was included in the 2011Central Statistics Office (CSO) census figures for the first time.
In less than two weeks the National Carers’ Strategy is due to be published and Deputy Crowe hopes it will for the first time urgently address the needs of young carers.
“These Census figures confirm what the Carers Association, the Children’s Charity Barnardos and other groups have been saying for years but are still shocking and hard to accept.
“The Census questionnaire shows that 4,228 children provided unpaid care in April 2011, with 1,838 under the age of 10. Most children are providing care for up to two hours a day, but for 500 others the number of hours is even higher.
“These figures are shocking and need a measured proactive response from government.
“In two weeks time, the National Carers’ Strategy will be published and it needs to urgently address the needs of young carers in its report.
“A child aged eight or nine is emotionally ill-equipped to provide essential care for an adult and policy makers and society should not be placing children in such a position.
“At the very least, there needs to be practical supports for children who provide this type of service yet in contrast to other countries there is no dedicated service available in Ireland to provide emotional assistance and support for these children.
“The latest census figures also reveal that there are 595,335 people with a disability accounting for 13 per cent of the population.
“The total number of carers aged 15 and over increased by 21,967 to 182,884.
"In addition there were a staggering 4,228 carers under the age of 15 bringing the total number of carers to 187,112, or 4.1 per cent of the population.
“Carers are saving the state €4bn every year but their work and the commitment they have shown to loved ones have been largely ignored by policy makers and successive governments.”