10th September 2019
Publication comes as over 2250 children who are homeless returned to school last week.
Focus Ireland and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) have produced a new guidance resource for primary school teachers and principals who are supporting students and families who are homeless or at risk. This document aims to highlight the reality of homelessness and its impact on children’s education as well as offering some practical suggestions about how schools can support pupils and sharing some good practice already happening in schools.
The new resource was launched today (Sept 10th ) at St. Joseph’s National School, Macroom Road, Bonnybrook, Dublin 17 and can be seen here https://www.focusireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Homelessness-in-the-Classroom.pdf
The most recent figures issued by the Dept. of Housing show that 3,778 children are currently homeless which is a jump over 400% in just 5 years. The latest regional figures also show that the crisis has now sadly spread to many cities nationwide with over 500 families and 1,000 children now homeless outside of Dublin. Focus Ireland has called for the Government to review its policies dealing with child homelessness and stated that such a review must examine very carefully how children are being treated in the homeless crisis.
A recent survey by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network found that more than one in four primary schools across the State have children who are homeless and suffering from anxiety, poor self-esteem and exhaustion. A survey of more than 1,000 school principals found that 27 per cent of primary schools have homeless children.
Speaking about the resource and its wider impact, Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said:
This resource will be of great assistance to teachers and principals in primary schools nationwide who are working to help many children and families who are facing homelessness. The damage it is causing to our children was again highlighted last week as over 2,250 children who are homeless went back to school nationwide. There’s a real danger that these human stories – and these children – get lost behind the numbers. We know through our work supporting families that homelessness is very damaging to children.
Focus Ireland is working hard through our services to support these children and their families. When you think of over 2,250 school children homeless, that really brings home the stark extent of this human crisis and the need for more action.
Finally, I’d like to thank the INTO for their collaboration with this resource, their expertise and experience have made this an important resource for any family who is facing homelessness.
INTO President Feargal Brougham said:
As a newly qualified teacher working here 30 years ago, I could never have foreseen that one day I would be launching a resource on primary school children’s homelessness. The idea that almost 4,000 children would be homeless was an alien one decades ago, it is a repugnant reality today.
This resource is both practical and accessible. The teacher’s voice comes through. Their demand, not only to assist in making school a haven for their pupils, but also in helping to put an end to this stain on our Republic. I call on the department to end its inertia on this topic and give schools the extra ring fenced resources and guidance they demand and need.
The suggestions contained within this school resource will not suit every school context and may need to be adjusted to respond to the individual pupils in your school given your unique context. Additionally, the document is supplemented with an online resource which sets out some of the external agencies and supports which are available for families who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.