FAMILIES IN CRISIS Irish parents don’t have the money to pay for head lice treatment – it’s a huge concern, charity warns
A top charity warns that Irish parents can’t afford head lice treatment and other medical supplies.
As living costs rise, parents must choose between heating, food, and medical care for their children, says Barnardos’ Stephen Moffatt.
His quote: “We’re concerned about children with minor health issues whose parents can’t afford treatment.
“Families who couldn’t afford hair lice treatment needed our help.
“You wonder if they could have done without that.”
Recent cost-of-living increases have hurt 70% of Irish children, according to a Barnardos report.
Over a quarter of Irish parents cut back or went without heat, and 23% cut back on electricity.
A Barnardos employee said: “One family can’t afford to heat, so their baby has to wear an outdoor coat inside.
“One parent cried to staff about heating the badly-needed house.
“It’s hard for this parent to focus on their parenting, what they want to improve, and what they need help with when they’re just trying to survive.”
Recent cost of living increases has also put families in “financial distress,” affecting their ability to parent.
Two-thirds of parents worry about providing food, heat, and electricity for their children.
“One parent is borderline hysterical about new financial pressures, constantly worried about the next bill she won’t be able to pay; she has lost all hope of managing,” said another Barnardos employee.
Stephen said parents suffering from “mental distress” while trying to provide for their children.
“The constant, constant worries, and the fact that parents often prioritize feeding, clothing, and medically treating their child over themselves,” he said.
“Neither parent nor child benefits”
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH
Cuts to daily essentials have hurt low-income Irish children. Their social life and mental health are also stunted.
50% of parents said their children miss out on social activities and entertainment due to financial constraints, while 34% can’t afford new clothes.
Barnardos says children can sense when their parents are stressed and financially strained, causing them “considerable anxiety and shame.”
These financial constraints can also affect children’s interactions with their peers, as they must forgo extracurricular and social activities like school trips.
Stephen continued: “Because you’re cutting back on entertainment, social activities may not seem important.
“But for many families, we would support, there is nothing to cut.
“These are fundamental to children’s development and childhoods, but many kids don’t have them.”
Stephen noted that children are more aware of their parent’s financial struggles.
said “Parents can try to shield their children from financial worries, but it usually backfires.
“Even if parents pay for new clothes or a school trip, the children are aware of the financial pressure.
“Children need food, clothes, and fun, too.
Financial constraints can affect a child’s mental health, development, and education.
“This can turn into a cycle where parents are embarrassed and avoid communicating with the school, leading to a breakdown in the home/school relationship and neglect of the children’s education,” the report said.
Suzanne Conolly, Barnardos CEO: “These national findings and our field experience show that more Irish families are in financial distress.
“We want the government to create a hardship fund through the Department of Social Protection to help families pay essential bills when their children would otherwise go without.
Barnardos says childhood lasts a lifetime, so the government must act now.