Targeted increases in childcare and hot meals for hard pressed families the most effective way to navigate the uncertainty of Brexit for children
Yesterday, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe TD announced a €94 million Budget package for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Today, the Department detailed how and where that money will be spent.
Responding to the today’s announcements, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward stated: “It is fair to say that Brexit has and will continue to have a significant impact on families living in this country. Yesterday’s Budget was a much tighter Budget for children and families overall. However, even under the immense pressure of Brexit precautions, we recognise the continuous effort to invest in children and youth affairs. We welcome Minister Zappone’s announcement today of an additional €54.5 million in childcare programmes with particular focus on supporting lone parent families. This is a sizeable investment but more investment will be needed to retain staff working in early years.”
Tanya Ward continued, “We are talking about the families who not only shouldered the worst effects of the last recession but who will also be worse hit in the aftermath of a hard Brexit. The fact that there are now specific supports in place that enable lone parent families to choose the best option for them means that no family will miss out with the introduction of the new National Childcare Scheme.”
“Lone parents and other working families can now stay on existing schemes until August 2021 or switch to the National Childcare Scheme, depending on what the best choice is for them. For those not working or studying, the new scheme will now cover up to 20 hours of childcare which will potentially be a gamechanger for children who will benefit from quality early learning and care regardless of whether their parents are working. Within this budget, Minister Zappone has made a clear choice to prioritise effective measures that will reach those most in need of support over a blanket universal increase. This gives families extra breathing space, especially those struggling to keep their heads above water with high living costs including housing that haven’t been adequately addressed in this year’s Budget.”
“While we need to see a lot more from other Government departments when it comes to prioritising children and families, we do acknowledge the commitment of both Minister Zappone and Minster Doherty to helping families living in consistent poverty. We welcome the announcement yesterday of the expansion of the hot school meals programmes to benefit 35,000 children next September, in addition to an existing pilot. We look forward to learning from the evaluation of that pilot scheme to see how it can be improved and rolled out nationally so every child can benefit. We are also encouraged to see that this is not just reserved for school age children, with Minister Zappone’s announcement of a pilot scheme for 45 early years settings, a commitment outlined in the First – the national early years strategy and one that will go a long way for children who do not get a hot, nutritious meal every day at home,” Tanya Ward concluded.
Emma Archbold, Children’s Rights Alliance 01 662 9400 / 0879971410 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor:
• Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.
• Download the Children’s Rights Alliance reaction to Budget 2020 here.
• Download the joint press statement on further investment in childcare here.
No Child 2020:
The No Child 2020 campaign launched in January 2019. The campaign is led by the Children’s Rights Alliance and an advisory group of its members including, Barnardos, Saint Vincent de Paul, Focus Ireland, One Family, National Youth Council of Ireland, Children in Hospital, Irish Heart Foundation, INTO and ASTI. More information can be found on the campaign website. #NoChild2020
About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL