Proposals centre on introduction of childcare support credit, extension of maternity leave and second free pre-school year
Fianna Fáil has published detailed proposals aimed at reforming the provision of childcare in Ireland. The proposals focus on making high quality childcare affordable for all parents, and closing the gap between the most deprived and advantaged children before they start school.
The childcare policy document, Accessible, Flexible and Affordable Childcare in Ireland, commits to the introduction of a Progressive Childcare Support Credit for working parents so that high quality childcare is available to all. Fianna Fáil will also extend maternity leave to 30 weeks, ensuring that parents can spend more time with their new born without having to worry about the effect on their career prospects.
The Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Childcare Robert Troy TD commented, “We recognise the enormous burden that high cost childcare is placing on families throughout the country. Our proposals aim to address this problem by making childcare more affordable for parents.
“To achieve this we will introduce a Childcare Support Credit targeted at low and middle income families to ease the cost of childcare on working families. This support credit will cover 20 per cent to 40 per cent of family’s childcare costs, depending on their income. This will enable all parents to afford good quality childcare and facilitate their return to work if they so choose.
“Our proposals will also extend paid maternity leave from 26 weeks to 30 weeks so that parents, if they so choose, can spend longer with their new born without worrying about their ability to earn a living. Fianna Fáil will bring forward legislation to allow mothers and fathers split paid and unpaid leave. This will make it more manageable for parents to share leave from their career if they decide this is the best option for them.
Deputy Troy also pledged to expand community childcare for children from low income families, and to roll out a second free pre-school year for children.
“Fianna Fáil rolled out community childcare when in Government, and we now want to build on that achievement. We believe that a child’s life chances should not be determined by their family income or where they live. We are proposing to significantly ramp up investment by expanding the Community Childcare Subvention scheme by 22%. This will ensure that an additional 5,500 children from low-income families get the childcare they deserve.
“Another key aspect of our policy document is a commitment to introduce a second free pre-school year for children aged 2-3 years. There is undeniable evidence that children who receive high quality early education have better social and educational outcomes. Our plan will ensure that children achieve their full potential from an early age.
“Fundamentally our childcare policy is about achieving fairness for parents and children. Our investment in progressive early education will support children’s cognitive, social and emotional development while our supports for parents will enable both mothers and fathers to spend more time at home with their new born without having to worry about its effect on their career prospects” said Deputy Troy.
Accessible, Flexible and Affordable Childcare in Ireland can be downloaded at http://fiannafail.ie/childcare