The Government has today unveiled ‘First 5’, a cross-Departmental strategy to support babies, young children and their families.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone said her department are laying out policy which makes a commitment for up to seven weeks’ paid parental leave for both parents by 2021.
The First 5 initiative sets out a ten year plan to deliver:
1. A broader range of options for parents to balance working and caring
2. A new model of parenting support – play based learning and support
3. New developments in child health, including a dedicated child health workforce
4. Reform of the Early Learning and Care (ELC) system, including a new funding model
5. A package of measures to tackle early childhood poverty
Speaking at today’s launch, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:
“The Government wants to make life easier for families, while also providing children with the best possible start. The first five years of a child’s life only happen once, but the impact of their experiences during this period can last a lifetime. For this reason, the Government has developed the ‘First 5’ Strategy.
“This is the first strategy of its kind in Ireland, setting out a road map for change and development over the coming decade – including family leave, subsidised Early Learning and Care, free GP care and a new Children’s Hospital, First 5 will significantly enhance early childhood in Ireland.”
In order to support children to spend more time with their parents, especially in the first year, First 5 sets out plans to develop a new parental leave scheme. This will deliver extended entitlements to paid leave for both fathers and mothers.
The government recently introduced a new parental benefit scheme which will allow both parents to access an additional two weeks leave in the first year of their child’s life.
Over the coming years, it the Government’s intention to extend this entitlement to 7 weeks per parent, which, the Government says, recognises the formative nature of the first year of a child’s life.
For further information on the First 5 initiative click here.