The Children's Rights Alliance has expressed disappointment at the rising number of children in emergency accommodation.

There were nearly 300 more children and young people in emergency accommodation at the end of last year compared to January 2021.

This is despite positive actions being taken in 2020 which resulted in a fall in the number of homeless families according to the alliance.

The organisation has published its annual 'Report Card', which grades the Government on the commitments it has made in relation to children.

On the issue of homelessness, the Government received the lowest grade which is an 'E'.

Chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance Tanya Ward said the Government must address rising rents in Ireland.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, Ms Ward said that the Government introduced measures during the pandemic to protect families from homelessness, but the situation is now deteriorating.

Ms Ward said: "We really need to see the Government really addressing the price of rent, because the backdrop here for families is that it is far more challenging at the end of 2021 than it was at the end of 2020. We are seeing record high rents."

She said that house prices are also growing.

There needs to be a focus on supporting one parent families and travellers, who have been identified as being most at risk, Ms Ward said.

Another 'E' grade was awarded for the continued practice of admitting children to adult psychiatric units.

While there was a slight reduction in 2021 - from 27 to 25 young people put on adult wards - the organisation said even one child in an adult ward is one too many.

The Children's Rights Alliance said placing a child or young person who is experiencing mental ill health in a ward with adults should not continue.

It said the fall in grade is also because for the first time, the admission of children to adult inpatient facilities will be placed on a statutory footing in forthcoming legislation, appearing to contradict the Government’s commitment to end the practice.

In the area of mental health, Ms Ward said the need for services has increased "across the board" during the pandemic.

She said that there are 2,300 on CAMHS waiting lists and described this as "deeply concerning."

Past President of the Psychological Society of Ireland Mark Smyth said there were a myriad of solutions to address the glaring gaps in the provision of mental health services and support for children, young people, and their families if the political will and funding was there to make it happen.

"Children and young people have a right to receive age-appropriate, safe healthcare and the inexcusable fact that 25 young people were placed in adult wards in 2021 continues to be unacceptable.

"The Government must take immediate steps to end this practice rather than embed it in legislation like they are proposing to do", he said.

He noted that pressures on CAMHS has been "abundantly clear" for many years, and this has been further highlighted following the issues that came to light in South Kerry CAMHS this year.

In five out of the 16 areas, the Government received a 'D' grade.

This was due to a lack of progress in establishing a new Childcare Agency, failure to continue the free school books pilot and for not yet completing the evaluation of the Traveller and Roma education inclusion pilot.

Other unfulfilled promises include a lack of progress in introducing a Public Health Obesity Act or developing an updated National Youth Homelessness Strategy.

The report says the need for change shows there are opportunities in 2022 to turn things around and a new national children and young people’s strategy would be a good starting point.

The Government also received good grades in a number of areas.

A 'B' grade was awarded on the commitment to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their children.

There were three 'B minus' grades for work to end the Direct Provision system, for reform of the childcare system and for the long-awaited guidelines on reduced timetables.

The highest grade was awarded for the commencement of the Harassment and Harmful Communications Act.

However, Online Safety secured a ‘C minus' as the draft legislation was only published in January 2022.

The Children’s Rights Alliance said there is still some way to go before an Online Safety Commissioner is put in place.