Welcome to our first e-newsletter of 2015. Hope you’re managing to stick to your new year resolutions. Here at Start Strong we’ve ditched the chocolate biscuits at meetings in favour of a fruit bowl. So far so good..
This year, the election will be a key focus of our work. On the plus side, it’s clear that ‘childcare’ is on the election agenda. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to get the political action that will ensure high quality and affordable early care and education for all children. We look forward to working with you all to bring about this much needed change.
In this issue, we look at what the new Government interdepartmental committee on affordable ‘childcare’ might mean. We also look at the evaluation of the Triple P parenting programme in the midlands and give an overview of our submission to the European Commission on its Country Specific Recommendation that Ireland do something about the cost of ‘childcare’.
We also welcome the recent statement by Minister of State for Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, that he is confident two weeks paid paternity leave will be included in the forthcoming Family Leave Bill. This would be a step in the right direction supporting fathers to play a more active role in the care of their young children.
Finally, it will be interesting to see what effect the Association of Childhood Professional’s (ACP) rally on February 17th might have. Start Strong supports the overall goal of the rally which is to highlight the importance of early childhood education and the vital role played by childhood professionals in supporting children and families.
With best wishes,
The team at Start Strong
At a Cabinet meeting on 14 January, the Government agreed to set up an inter-departmental committee to develop proposals for more affordable ‘childcare’.
The decision is very welcome as additional investment in early years services is long overdue, but it really matters what form the investment takes.
To help ensure that the committee makes the right recommendations, Start Strong will continue campaigning actively over the coming months for Government action to take the form of increased direct investment in early years services, rather than tax breaks for ‘childcare’.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time programme on 20 January, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, the Minister of State for Equality, said that he intends to introduce 2 weeks’ paid paternity leave as part of the Family Leave Bill.
Start Strong welcomed the statement as it would help fathers take a stronger role in the care of their children in the important first few weeks. It would also signal the Government’s recognition of the role fathers play – and the importance of leave entitlements for families.
The European Commission’s 2014 ‘Country Specific Recommendations’ for Ireland, published last summer, called on the Government to do something about the cost of ‘childcare’.
Start Strong has made a submission to the Commission, giving our assessment of the Government’s actions over the last 12 months, and making suggestions on what the Commission should say in its 2015 Country Specific Recommendations – especially on the need for quality and affordability to be addressed at the same time.
Since 2010, the Longford-Westmeath Parenting Partnership (now the Midlands Area Parenting Partnership) has been delivering the Triple P parenting programme to all parents with young children in the two counties.
The results have just been published of a major evaluation of the programme, which has demonstrated positive benefits both for children and for parents.
The US President Barack Obama has launched a major initiative to encourage increased investment in early childhood in the US. His initiative receives backing from the ‘White House Council of Economic Advisors’, who have published a report highlighting the economic benefits.
The report makes a compelling case both for high quality early care and education services, and also for increased support for parenting.
A new research study, published by the European Commission, examines the links between early school leaving and early care and education.
To reduce the risk of early school leaving, the study calls for a ‘well-balanced education system’. Children’s early years matter, but they are only part of the story. Each stage of the school system matters, as well as the links and transitions between them.
Advancing children’s early care and education in Ireland
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