Almost 7,000 children under the age of 17 were waiting for an appointment with a Health Service Executive psychologist at the end of last July, according to official figures.

The information is contained in the latest report by the Children's Rights Alliance on Government services for young people.

One-third of those concerned have been on the waiting list for over a year.

The annual score card on the Government’s performance in meeting the needs of children shows an overall improvement from a D+ last year to a C- this year, a trend reflected in education.

Mental health services improved marginally, gaining a D compared with last year’s D-.

But the Children’s Rights Alliance says a D of any description means "a barely acceptable performance (by the State), with little or no positive impact on children".

The alliance represents more than 100 civil society organisations.

It quoted a statement in the Dáil last autumn by Minister for State with Responsibility for Mental Health Jim Daly.

He said that, at primary care level, there were 6,811 children waiting for a community-based psychology appointment at the end of last July and that a third of those concerned had been waiting over a year.

Minister Daly also revealed that four out of five in the queue were aged between five and 17.

The alliance also highlights continuing failures - an E grade this year as well as last - in the State’s provision for children experiencing homelessness.

It said the Government is presiding over "a national emergency in family homelessness" and points to the Government's failure to meet its own deadline to eliminate unsuitable emergency family accommodation.

In a related passage, its review of the plan for DEIS schools, which are serving disadvantaged communities, the CRA report criticises the failure to adequately address the demand for counselling and other therapeutic supports.

It said this is despite a growing recognition that emotional and mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, school bullying and violence, as well as the school climate, may have a significant impact on a child's well-being and success at school, as well as being risk factors for early school leaving.

The Chief Executive of the Psychological Society of Ireland has said she is not surprised to hear that almost 7,000 children under 17 were waiting for an appointment with a HSE psychologist at the end of last July.

On RTÉ's News At One, Terri Morrissey said it is her understanding that there is inconsistency in the recording of the numbers.

She said the PSI welcomes the introduction of a new grade of assistant psychologist, but said assistants are not fully qualified and are not a replacement for fully trained psychologists.