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The Department of Children cannot adopt a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to the refugee crisis

Children with additional needs living in emergency accommodation should not be moved at short notice, according to Social Democrats Spokesperson for Children Jennifer Whitmore.

“Today, some 200 Ukrainian refugees are being moved from the Clondalkin hotel they have lived in for up to seven months, having been told at short notice that they will be moved to Cork, Donegal and Limerick.

“Among them, are the Kopernyk family, whose 10-year-old son Yehor has autism and found great support in St. Joseph’s national school. Yehor has progressed from being extremely distressed and unable to socialise with other children to being happy and content and integrated into some mainstream classes.

“Given the trauma Yehor has already endured, having to flee Ukraine because of war, and the progress he has made since getting a place in St. Joseph’s national school, it is unconscionable to move his family to another part of the country at short notice.

“Families who have put down roots in communities should only ever be moved as a last resort. However, a different approach must be adopted for families who have children with additional needs.

“Children with additional needs need stability, security and routine in order to reach their full potential. The move is likely to result in the progress Yehor has been in recent months being lost – with potential long-term consequences for his development.

“The Department of Children cannot adopt a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to the refugee crisis. Vulnerable families must be identified and provided with additional supports.

“Last week, an expert group chaired by Catherine Day published a report which called on the government to deliver its commitment to build State-operated reception centres on State land. When can we expect this construction to start?

“The government cannot continue its reactive approach to the escalating refugee crisis. It must start planning for the future – and alleviating pressure from the private accommodation sector.”

28 November, 2022


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