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NWCI welcomes supports for parents in the new Government Early Years Strategy First 5

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has welcomed the announcement of supports for parents in the Government’s early year’s strategy plan First 5.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“State investment in quality early learning centres is one we here in NWCI have long called for and warmly welcome. Government plans to link investment with reduced fees charged to parents is a critical positive commitment.  We know how difficult it is for parents, particularly lone parents, to meet the costs of childcare and this measure will be of enormous benefit to families who are already struggling. In order to achieve accessible, affordable childcare for all it must be supported by significant annual investment and in addition must ensure the quality of early learning centres is at a high standard.”

“Another welcome proposal will see the professional status of staff working in early learning centres raised through a Workforce Development Plan. This move recognises their highly skilled work, so crucial to children’s development and wellbeing. However, the measure must be accompanied by a strong government commitment to introduce a pay scale for the childcare workforce, predominately women, who are currently being paid salaries just above the minimum wage.”

Orla O’Connor said,

“NWCI is pleased to see Minister Katherine Zappone’s focus on vulnerable families with the significant commitment in the Strategy to the introduction a DEIS-type model for early learning centres in areas of disadvantage and introducing actions to address food poverty.

Minister Zappone’s creation of a whole of government approach draws attention to other crucial care and gender equality issues that NWCI has long campaigned on. The Strategy outlines a commitment to a maximum of 14 weeks paid parental leave by 2021 for working parents, in addition to maternity and paternity leave. This is moving in the right direction but needs to be further increased to allow parents to take care of their child during the first year at home without taking into account the parents’ annual leave entitlements.”



For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWCI, Tel. 085 858 9104