The Deputy will be aware that the Report Card is an established accountability tool for the Children's Right Alliance (CRA) and its more than 100 member organisations. It has since 2009, used the Report Card to scrutinise progress on the commitments to children in the Programme for Government. The most recent Report Card explores progress during 2017 against commitments in the Programme for Government which was published in May 2016.
Each year, the CRA evaluates Government's delivery of its promises in six key areas - the right to education, to an adequate standard of living, to health, rights in the family environment and alternative care, rights in early childhood and the right to equality. The grading is carried out by a high-level independent panel, comprising some of Ireland's leading experts in children's rights, child law, education, early years and from the trade union sector. The Report Card also provides an important resource for politicians, policy makers, service providers and non-governmental organisations and academics. The recommendations relate to issues across a range of Government Departments, including my Department.
I note that the Government's overall performance on child-related issues was assessed to have improved over last year, and that five of the six areas had an overall improvement in grade. My own Department's area of child protection got the single highest grade of the whole report; a B, up from last year's grade C. The report also gave LGBT+ issues a grade B-, up from C+ last year.
Nevertheless I recognise that there is much to be done, both within my own Department's areas of responsibility and across Government.
A considerable number of the CRA's recommendations are reflected in the commitments contained within Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, with responsibility for implementation again falling to the respective Government Departments. My Department is responsible for monitoring progress on the implementation of Better Outcomes Brighter Futures and supporting its key implementation structures across Departments and sectors. An annual report on progress towards those commitments to April 2017 was published in September 2017.
I can confirm that my officials are already focussing on the immediate actions for 2018 that were highlighted by the CRA in relation to these policy areas.