The Irish Independent on Friday had more leaks concerning the forthcoming budget in the Autumn.  Announcements relating to the recent Government Report on Childcare have made a number of proposals which will prove beneficial for our children in the future.

While the report is not published yet it sounds promising with recommendations including:

  • extension of the Early School Year;
  • rationalising existing childcare subvention schemes to a single scheme;
  • six months’ paid parental leave in addition to maternity benefit;
  • paternity benefit paid for by the State of one or two weeks.

Commentators have long identified that 3 hrs of preschool care for the 38 weeks or so of the normal school year is in adequate at best.

Most promising however is the additional parental leave and the long over due introduction of up to two weeks specifically paid paternity leave. At present fathers at best get a few days extra leave from their employers when they have a new arrival. As a result most new dads will have to take their built up holiday leave to spend time with their new borns.

The additional 6 months paid paternal leave will be open to both mothers and fathers to take and will bring Ireland up to the accepted recommended first year where a child has the direct care of it’s parents. How we get these benefits to apply to people who are currently falling through the gaps in the existing child welfare laws such as the self employed.

The next challenge now however is to get more fathers to take some if not all of the additional 6 months of parental leave. How can we encourage parents that the “missed opportunities” from being away from work is worth it for the benefit of their children. Perhaps mothers and fathers will be in a good position to that sharing parental leave between them balances the opportunities for career progression with equal time missed. Even better if it encourages employers to find better ways to keep their employees engaged and to manage their absences better.

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