Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has today published the 2021 edition of State of the Nation’s Children (SONC) Report. This SONC online report provides a comprehensive picture of our children’s lives by presenting key information on children’s health, behavioural and educational outcomes as well as their relationships with their parents and their friends. It also presents data on supports and services available to children.

This report has been published biennially since 2006 and annually since last year and is prepared by the Research and Evaluation Unit in the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY).

SONC provides the most up-to-date data on the National Set of Child Wellbeing indicators, and:

  • charts the wellbeing of children in Ireland
  • tracks changes over time
  • benchmarks progress in Ireland relative to other countries

SONC is widely used as a resource by policy makers, the research community and civil society, and aims to inform government policy on children, young people and families. The SONC reports are useful for tacking trends in relation to children’s wellbeing, they provide data that shows us where more work needs to be done and presents us with evidence of where progress is being made.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • in 2021 there were 1,191,125 children living in Ireland. This accounted for 23.8% of the total population
  • in 2018 31.1% of children aged 10-17 reported having been bullied at school in the past couple of months. This increased between 2014 and 2018
  • for the 2020/21 pre-school year there were 4,023 pre-school services under contract to deliver the ECCE Programme to 104,137 children. Of these pre-school services 39.0% met the basic capitation status and 61.0% met the higher capitation status
  • the Leaving Certificate retention rate for children entering secondary school in 2014 was 91.5%, that is, out of the 61,161 enrolled on 30 September 2014 in year one of the Junior Cycle, 55,992 sat the Leaving Certificate by 2019, or sat the Leaving Certificate or received a calculated grade in 2020
  • in 2018 76.8% of children were classified as being in the ‘normal’ weight category according to the International Obesity Taskforce Standards. 15.8% were classified as either ’overweight’ or ’obese’
  • in 2020 there were 5,205 children registered as having an intellectual disability
  • in Q4 2020 there were 14,654 child welfare and protection referrals to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency
  • in 2020 13.2% of the population were considered to be at risk of poverty
  • in 2020 there were 24,646 households with children identified as being in need of social housing. This number has decreased by 46.7% between 2016 and 2020
  • in 2020 there were 5,818 children in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency
  • in 2020 there were 168 births to mothers aged 10-17. In the four year period 2017-2020 the number of births to mothers aged 10-17 has decreased by 20.4%
  • in 2018 88.2% of children aged 10-17 reported being happy with their lives at present

Welcoming the report, the Minister said:

“I am delighted to publish the 2021 edition of the State of the Nation’s Children report. The report compiles comprehensive up-to-date data on children’s wellbeing in an easily accessible format and is a valuable resource to policymakers, civil society, researchers, services, schools and colleges, parents and families, communities and indeed anyone interested in learning more about how children are faring in Ireland today. It provides us with the evidence base to consider how we can build on and improve better wellbeing outcomes for children and young people.”