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Press Release, 24/02/2016: Business and workers groups back voting for early years this Friday

Chambers Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions lend support to campaign on childcare and family leave

National representative bodies for trade unions and business have jointly called for the next government to make childcare a priority by urgently increasing investment and strengthening family leave provisions.

Chambers+ICTU horizontal

Start Strong – a coalition group campaigning to improve government policy on early years in Ireland – have been asking election candidates to make a Promise to Children as part of their Early Years #GE16 campaign. As part of the promise candidates pledge that, if elected, they will make early years a priority by ensuring affordable, accessible, quality childcare services and strengthening family leave.

Both the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Chambers Ireland have thrown their weight behind the campaign and have called on the electorate to cast their votes on Friday, February 26, for parties and candidates who will act to make this a reality.

Ciairín de Buis, CEO of Start Strong, said:

“Today our nation’s youngest children are being short-changed. Most parents can’t stay at home with their baby until their 1st birthday. And while parents work, they worry about placing their young children in expensive childcare which can vary hugely in quality.

“Start Strong’s Early Years #GE16 campaign addresses these concerns, providing solutions that work for young children and their families. Chambers Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions support our campaign because they realise the benefits to business and workers’ lives.

“By significantly increasing investment, linking that funding to quality services through direct subsidies, and placing a cap on fees for parents, we can realise affordable, quality, accessible early years for young children. Meaning parents can afford to work, knowing their child will be well cared for.

“Strengthening family leave through the addition of six months’ paid parental leave will mean parents can care for their children for the first 12 months, allowing them to share leave between mother and father, and giving parents the time and space to more comfortably return to work, confident that they are taking the best option for their family situation.”

Mark O’Mahoney, Director of Policy and Communications, Chambers Ireland, commented:

“As Ireland’s largest business network, Chambers Ireland recognises that access to affordable, high-quality childcare has long been a problem for both parents and employers here. Until we re-think our approach to childcare services our businesses will continue to lose talented employees, parents will be forced out of work, and Government will lose out on potential additional taxation revenue.

“Investing in young children will reap huge economic benefits – not just through long-term improvements in education and career outcomes which quality care can provide to children – but also in the short term. Currently Ireland is suffering an extraordinary loss in skills and talent because half of all of women with two or more children do not re-enter the workforce. We are calling on all voters to cast their ballots this Friday for affordable, quality and accessible childcare which will free up parents to return to work, improving the skills of our workforce and allowing Ireland to better compete.”

David Joyce, Equality Officer, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, added:

“Working families are under serious pressure and this is made all the worse by the lack of workplace arrangements to help reconcile work and family life. Research shows that workers (both women and men) who experience such a conflict have a significantly lower quality of life, run a higher risk of health problems and are less productive.

“Family Leave and childcare measures that are high quality, affordable and accessible to all would take huge pressures off these families. The case for affordable, quality childcare is overwhelming – in terms of economics and equality. A vote for the Early Years #GE16 model this Friday is a vote for a productive economy and a more equal society.”

In conclusion, Ciairín de Buis stated:

“Start Strong has analysed what the main political parties’ manifestos say when it comes to childcare and family leave. Our Early Years #GE16 Analysis highlights that, while big money is being promised for the area, the approach varies widely across the parties. For example, there is strong international evidence for the Start Strong approach of investment through direct service subsidies, as opposed to a tax credits system which will fail to adequately address the crisis of quality in our early years sector.

“Despite this, however, big money promises are all too necessary to address our early years crisis – so long as they are investing in the right policies. Currently Ireland, at less than 0.2% GDP, lags far behind the OECD average (0.8%), when it comes to investing in early years. Our young children, and their parents, are paying the price.”

#EarlyYears #GE16 | Follow us on Twitter @StartStrongIrl | Like us on Facebook facebook.com/StartStrongIreland.

About Start Strong

  • Start Strong is a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland.
  • Early Years care and education means the care and education of children in their early years, from their first months to the compulsory school starting age of 6 years old.
  • For more information on our Early Years #GE16 Campaign, follow #EarlyYears #GE16 on social media and visit earlyyears.ie.

Read the Early Years #GE16 analysis of childcare and family leave policies.