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Sinn Féin bring crucial childcare motion before Dáil

2 November, 2004

Sinn Féin Private Members Motion on Childcare

That the Dáil noting that

- over five years since the publication of the National Childcare Strategy childcare provision is still, in the words of the Strategy, "uncoordinated, variable in quality and in short supply"

- the Government's failure to ensure comprehensive childcare provision, has negative consequences for children, women, families, society and the economy

- the complete lack of adequate childcare, including pre-school, after-school and out-of-school childcare, continues to restrict the participation of parents of young children, particularly women, in the workforce, education and training, as confirmed by the OECD Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care Policy in Ireland

- delivery of childcare places and improved infrastructure under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme has been subject to long delays due to the protracted review of funding by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

- there is an urgent need to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for childcare provision up to and beyond the completion of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme in 2006

- the development of quality childcare is self-financing through increased tax returns from women's work and less dependency on social security

affirms that the State shall have the following goals, which the Government shall work to achieve within a definite timeframe:

  • to enable all parents to reconcile their childcare needs with participation in the labour force, education and training
  • to enable all parents to exercise their choice to care for their children full time up to one year of age
  • to enable all parents to access affordable childcare for their children
  • to establish universal state provision of pre-school for all children from the age of three to five years
  • to establish universal provision of early childhood care and education based on the Swedish system

and calls on the Government, in the interim, to:

  • Harmonise maternity leave on an all-Ireland basis by increasing maternity leave to 26 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid.
  • Increase Maternity Benefit to 80% of earnings immediately
  • Harmonise paternity leave on an all-Ireland basis by introducing paid paternity entitlements of two weeks per child
  • Increase adoptive leave to 24 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid
  • Introduce paid parental leave and legislate without further delay to implement the terms agreed in respect of parental leave under the Sustaining Progress Agreement
  • Assist parents with the cost of childcare by increasing Child Benefit to €150 per month for the first and second child and to €185.50 for third and subsequent children and by increasing Child Dependent Allowance to a single weekly figure of €26 for all recipients
  • Introduce a Childcare Supplement to be paid as a top-up for Child Benefit for under 5's
  • Increase revenue for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme, including capital, staffing and operational funding and immediately expedite all outstanding applications which have been delayed due to the review of the Programme
  • Reinstate the Creche Supplement and the VTOS childcare supports, the cutting of which have caused severe hardship to parents and children in disadvantaged communities
  • Raise awareness of and increase funding for the Childminders' Grant scheme
  • Review the 'Childcare Facilities: Guidelines for Planning Authorities' to assess effectiveness of the guidelines and investigate the possibility of introducing legislation in line with Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to require developers to construct childcare facilities in housing developments and to transfer these to the ownership of the local authority upon completion
  • Bring forward legislation to effectively address the need for employers to share responsibility for provision of childcare for their employees.

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