Investment priorities for children and families in Budget 2021

Posted on Monday, 10 August 2020
children ser 2020

Investment priorities for Children and Families Budget 2021

Investment in children and families is an essential investment in our social and human capital now and into the future.

Paternity and parental leave

Government must increase investment in paternity and parental leave entitlements to meet the commitment in First Five to enable children to be cared for at home by fathers and mothers during their first year through more generous parental leave, and to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights Work Life Balance initiative.

Quality, affordable, accessible childcare

The provision of quality, affordable, accessible childcare for working parents is essential. Social Justice Ireland proposes that Government develop and allocate sufficient resources to a new funding model for childcare provision. It should be based on elements of the ECCE scheme, separating affordability for families from wages and the professionalisation of the sector, thereby improving quality services for children and affordability for families. This model would allow providers to focus on improving and expanding the provision of high quality services for families. Resources must also be invested in childminding to facilitate parental choice in finding the most appropriate childcare options for their family.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

The most striking feature of investment in education in Ireland relative to other OECD countries is its under-investment in early childhood education.

Ireland spends just under 0.2 per cent of GDP (0.25 per cent of GNI*) on pre-primary education compared to an OECD average of 0.8 per cent of GDP. Early childhood is the stage where education can most effectively influence the development of children and help reverse disadvantage. Government should increase investment in ECCE to meet the OECD average by 2023.

Arts and Cultural Participation

Arts and cultural participation is an integral part of learning and development and therefore should be integrated into the ECCE framework. This investment would begin to address the large disparities in arts participation between children from different socio-economic backgrounds highlighted in the Growing Up in Ireland study.

Children and Young People in Direct Provision

Government should move to abolish direct provision and move those seeking asylum into more appropriate accommodation.  In the interim children and young people in direct provision must be entitled to the same opportunities as their peers. This applies to social welfare supports for their families, and financial support to access further education. Increased educational access in particular is not expensive, and should be considered an investment in improving immigrant integration.

Investment priorities for Children and families Budget 2021

  • Increase investment in ECCE towards the OECD average.
  • Develop a new state-funded model of childcare provision.
  • Invest resources in childminding to ensure parental choice.
  • Integrate arts and cultural learning into the ECCE framework.
  • Improve education funding for children in direct provision.