About this Campaign

Why the LOST Childhood Campaign?

When a child is lost, the world takes notice. Search parties are formed. Front-page stories are printed. Airports are closed. We are captivated by the terror. And we will all work hard to find that child because we know it’s important.

However, 1 in 7 children in Ireland are already lost1. We lose children every day to homelessness, to poverty, to neglect, to poor policy making, to waiting lists, to our unjust society that is neglectful of children’s needs. It is up to us all to change this story. It is up to us all to tackle this injustice.

Barnardos is creating a movement of people like you, your friends, your family, to make sure every childhood is truly valued by society and to drive the change that is needed to give every child in Ireland a chance to reach their full potential. Join the search at www.barnardos.ie/lost

LOST to homelessness

No child should worry about whether they will wake up in the same bed tomorrow as they did today. No child should fear losing their home and thus their sense of safety and security.

More than 3,000 children are homeless today. Tens of thousands more live in fear of homelessness in overcrowded, unsuitable or unstable accommodation. Worst of all, this is preventable, and that is utterly unacceptable.

LOST to poverty

No child’s access to food, warmth, health care or education should be determined by how much money their parents have or where they live.

Ireland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world yet over 132,000 children are living in consistent poverty and access to the most basic services are impeded by ability to pay or location. Too many crucial building blocks of children’s development and wellbeing are dramatically affected by factors beyond their control such as where they live or family income. Many children are suffering needlessly on waiting lists for essential health, educational or developmental services.  

LOST to neglect

No child should feel unloved or uncared for. Every child should be protected and be able to get help when they need it.  All parents should be supported to be the best they can be.

Children need to be loved, nourished and supported from day one. All parents need support, but many don’t know where to go to get help. For many reasons, sometimes parents aren’t able to provide that level of care that their children need. In 2016 there were 47,399 child welfare and protection referrals to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Early intervention in situations where a family needs additional supports can transform a child’s experience, dramatically improving their childhood and potential future.

What can be done?

Barnardos is calling on parents, public, politicians. Everyone. Join our movement of ordinary people to drive the change that is needed to give every child a chance to reach their full potential, to challenge government and society where it fails children, to ensure no child is lost. We’re calling on the Government to take the following first steps to truly support children throughout their childhood:

  • Starting-Off At Home: Ensure all children have a good start in life by introducing a dedicated child and family public health nurse system with guaranteed home visits.
  • Quality family time: Support all parents to be the best they can be through providing greater availability of timely community and public based family support services.
  • During Pre-School: Guarantee all children have access to quality early childhood care and education by extending the ECCE scheme for an additional year open to all 2 year olds.
  • Going to Big School: Support every child’s right to free primary education by providing free school books to all primary school children.
  • Being Healthy to Grow: Fulfil every child’s right to quality healthcare by providing fully staffed primary care teams across the country at a ratio of 1 for every 1500 children.
  • Somewhere Suitable to Live: Guarantee that no child spends more than 6 months in emergency accommodation and substantially increase the building of social and affordable housing to provide long-term solutions for children and family experiencing homelessness.

The government is already on record as saying that, in effect, money’s no object when it comes to family homelessness. The other things we demand for children now, would cost just under €250 million in a full year. Not the billions that are proposed to be spent on metros and motorways, just the beginnings of an investment into the future of our children.

Every child lost is a result of injustice. No child should be lost. We can be the generation to stop it. We can collectively demand for change so children are prioritised. Now is the time to start.

Join the search at www.barnardos.ie/lost

What is Barnardos doing about these issues?

Read about our work with children and families affected by homelessness, poverty and neglect.


1 1 in 7 children is based on the cumulative figure of 173,052 children living in poverty, those in care, those referred to family support services, those in direct provision and those experiencing homelessness. All figures relate to December 2016 so likely this to be an underestimate especially given the number of children experiencing homelessness has risen significantly.