"A child will thrive if they are nurtured"
Call for high quality care and education prior to publication of Government National Early Years Strategy
Greater access to Early Childhood Care and Education alongside government investment in quality services, the extension of paid paternity leave and the need for regulation of and supports for childminding services in Ireland were among the topics discussed by children’s spokespersons from all of the political parties today. The political panel discussion organised by the Children’s Rights Alliance represents the first all-party debate on Early Years that has taken place since the formation of the current government in May 2016.
"How to provide quality supports and services should be at the forefront of every discussion about under fives,” according to Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of theChildren’s Rights Alliance. “This means ensuring that the National Early Years Strategy is underpinned by children's rights and ensuring that all decisions related to the strategy and its roll-out are made with the child's best interests at heart."
Today’s discussion took place as the Government’s much-anticipated National Early Years Strategy is due to be published, a strategy which is set to inform the manner in which Early Years are approached for the next decade.
Despite the introduction of two weeks paid paternity leave in 2016, Ireland still lags considerably behind the European average of 19 months paid family leave for both parents after the birth of a child.
“The Government has only recently begun funding Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in Ireland. However, too much of the focus has been on affordability for parents as opposed to quality of services for the child,” said Tanya Ward. “A child will thrive if they are nurtured. Bad quality services will harm a child.”
Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos and Chair of the Children’s Rights Alliance Early Years Advisory Group stated how funding of child-care and education in the first five years of a child’s life in Ireland is still among the lowest in Europe. “This crucial stage of a child’s life remains lowest down the pecking order of children’s care and educational needs where government funding is concerned,” Finlay said.
Today’s panel discussion included children’s spokespersons Jan O’Sullivan TD for Labour, Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte, Fine Gael TD Jim Daly, People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett and Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion.