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Press release, 10/07/2015: Start Strong welcomes proposal for 6 months' paid parental leave

Families: Children's first educators imageFor immediate release, Dublin, 10 July 2015

Start Strong – a coalition group campaigning to improve government policy on early years in Ireland – welcomed the childcare and parental leave proposals reported in the Irish Independent this morning.

According to reports in the Irish Independent, the Inter-Departmental Group established by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is set to recommend the introduction of paid parental leave, paid paternity leave, and extension of public funding schemes for early care and education.

“Start Strong would warmly welcome paid parental leave that enables a parent to remain at home with their children for at least the critical first year, though 10 years is too long to wait for full implementation of the measure”, said Toby Wolfe, Policy and Research Officer at Start Strong.

According to Toby Wolfe, “Combining maternity, parental and family leave, European countries on average offer 19 months of paid leave. In Ireland we have just 6 months. We’re lagging far behind most of Europe. Six months’ paid parental leave would be a big help to parents and to children.”

“But we also need much more investment in early care and education services,” he added.

The reports in the Irish Independent suggest the Government is looking at options including extension of the Free Pre-School Year, and reform of childcare subvention schemes.

Toby Wolfe continued, “Our early care and education services are unaffordable to many families, and of variable quality. The high cost of childcare for parents keeps many families in poverty. And quality is critical because early years services only benefit children when they are high quality.”

“The only way to ensure both affordability and quality is through direct public investment in services, subsidising the cost of places to parents, and linking the funding to quality requirements.”

Ireland’s current level of investment on pre-school care and education services is less than 0.2% GDP, far below the OECD average of 0.8% GDP, and a fraction of the 1% GDP invested in the countries with the highest standards of provision.

/ends/

Contact: For more information, please contact Start Strong on 01 – 662 4018.

Notes to editor:

  • Start Strong is a coalition of 65 organisations seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland. www.startstrong.ie @StartStrongIrl facebook.com/StartStrongIreland
  • The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs set up the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Future Investment in Early Years and School-Age Services, to make recommendations to Government by the summer.
  • Start Strong is campaigning with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the National Women’s Council of Ireland for stronger family leave policies. An infographic comparing Ireland’s parental leave policies with the rest of Europe is available at www.familyleave.net
  • Start Strong’s proposals for policy reform are summarised in our Pre-Budget Submission, available at www.startstrong.ie
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