Scrutiny raises concerns about lack of recovery strategy for children

4th February 2022

In a public hearing this morning, the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel (CEHA) questioned the Minister for Children and Education about his children's remit.

As a result of the hearing the Panel has identified, among others, the following key concerns:

Lack of Covid Recovery Strategy for children

  • The Panel is concerned that the Minister for Children and Education does not believe there should be a specific Covid recovery strategy implemented for children.
  • Panel members expect, as a minimum, that the Minister should set out a clear action plan to aid the recovery of children's educational and wellbeing requirements.

Social Care

  • The Panel has concerns that the Government is receiving 200 referrals every month and, despite the fact that the number of acute referrals is being reduced, there is still work to be done to reduce waiting times. The Panel highlights that the Government's strategy is 'Putting Children First', and greater focus should be made to address these issues.
  • The Panel is pleased to hear the new intensive support programme for especially vulnerable young people will be operational in six weeks. The Panel looks forward to an update on the programme by the end of quarter one 2022.


  • Concerns were raised by the Panel that air filters have not yet been installed in schools as part of the response to Covid-19 and there is no clarity on when they will be installed.
  • The Panel also highlights concerns that the Department for Children, Education, Young People and Skills is relying on parents to test children before they go to school and raises concerns with regard to the effectiveness of the approach.

Legislative Programme

  • Progress made on some important laws was welcomed by the Panel. The Panel appreciates that these laws have been delayed due to Covid and understands that the Children's Law is due to be debated next week and a Due Regard Law in respect of children's rights is due to be lodged by 15 February for debate in late March. The Panel has presented comments in relation to the Children's Law and will be examining the proposals in relation to the Due Regard Law.
  • The Panel highlights the potential impact of the proposed Children and Young People's Law on other legislation, specifically in relation to income support. The Panel emphasises that these consequential amendments need to be addressed by the Minister.

Deputy Rob Ward, Chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel, commented: "We have serious concerns that the Minister believes that there should not be a Covid recovery strategy implemented specifically for children and young people, this must be addressed and, at a minimum, an action plan should be put in place and published. We are pleased to see progress has been made in respect of legislation relating to children and look forward to further updates on the development of services to assist vulnerable children."

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