Submission to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on provisions relating to Early Years for Budget 2018
This submission sets out the Children’s Rights Alliance’s recommendations to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for its Budget 2018 estimates.
The Alliance welcomes the positive investment by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in measures related to children’s early years in Budget 2017. These measures included extending the Free Pre-School Year (FPSY), proposing the Affordable Childcare Scheme with additional funding of €19m, and providing additional monies to Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate and the Department of Education and Skills’ Early Years Inspectorate.
The Children’s Rights Alliance also welcomes the introduction of two weeks Paternity Benefit, through funding allocated to the Department of Social Protection, and underpinned by the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016.
These budgetary measures, and the whole-of-Government approach to improving young children’s outcomes required to deliver them, is a testament to having a national policy framework like Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.1 The publication of the National Early Years Strategy is necessary and will only strengthen this integrated strategic approach.
The Department’s Budget 2018 estimates should build on national investment to date and should focus on four key policy areas:
- Providing the required funds to implement ‘More Affordable Childcare’ from January 2018 and to commence the implementation of the Affordable Childcare Scheme from September 2018.
- Investing directly in Early Years services to improve and maintain the quality of the services received by young children using the non-contact time model developed by DCYA in Budget 2017.
- Providing a budget line to assist with reforming and supporting the childminding sector.
- Ensuring an increase in Ireland’s current family leave legislation and benefits forms part of the National Early Years Strategy.