Children & Youth Affairs

The early years of a child’s life are critical in their long-term development. Fianna Fáil is committed to building a childcare system that keeps costs for parents down while giving children quality care and support. 

01

Lower Childcare Costs

The subsidy level needs to be increased to middle-income workers who need support with their childcare costs. • We will invest an additional €81m to increase the universal childcare subsidy from €20 per week to €80 per week. • We will consider introducing fee caps for childcare services if costs to parents are not reduced. 

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02

Establish a Childminders Tax Credit

We will directly support working parents by introducing progressive tax credit worth €2,000 for average income households who rely on non-relative registered childminders at a cost of €26 million.

We will work to increase the number of registered childminders by introducing fit-for-purpose regulations. •

 

03

Protecting Children Online

We will be implementing new ways of engaging children and young people, as well as their parents, guardians, and teachers, on the issue of internet safety.

Peer to peer and parental education, along with new child-centred programs will form the backbone of a new, improved internet safety for our all our children.

I am determined to get this right for families.

 

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04

Increased Supports for Parents

We will revamp the childcare scheme with increased subsidy levels and price transparency to ensure parents benefit from lower costs.

We will provide a tax credit for registered childminders to give parents greater choice in terms of childcare. Statutory entitlement to maternity and paternity leave will be extended. 

05

Family Resource Centres

Over one million people now have access to a Family Resource Centre – and I want to see this number increase. Vibrant and strong centres are working with local people of all ages.

Community childcare services, youth clubs, education and training courses as well as activities aimed at older people are providing literally cradle to grave support. These vibrant community hubs are also places which children, young people and families can use during times of personal difficulty. 

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06

Streamlined Access to Disability Services

We are 100% committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will:

  • empower them to live independent lives,
  • provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose
  • enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs 
  • plan their lives which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Giving every child an equal start

The early years of a child’s life are critical in their long-term development. Fianna Fáil is committed to building a childcare system that keeps costs for parents down while giving children quality care and support.

Fianna Fáil will revamp the childcare scheme with increased subsidy levels and price transparency to ensure parents benefit from lower costs. We will provide a tax credit for registered childminders to give parents greater choice in terms of childcare. Statutory entitlement to maternity and paternity leave will be extended.

Stay-at-home carers also play a crucial role that must be recognised, and we will increase the Home Carer Tax Credit to support these parents.

We will expand Ireland’s childcare sector by investing in providers, supporting staff, and reducing core operating costs. This will ensure high quality care for children and affordable fees for parents.

Our goals

  • Affordable childcare across the country
  • Statutory entitlement to more time off with children
  • Value the role of stay-at-home carers
  • Support for families who use childminders

Over the next five years we will:

1.  Increase the National Childcare Scheme subsidy for ordinary workers

The National Childcare Scheme has been mired in protracted delays and missed deadlines. Even as the scheme finally comes into operation, ordinary families receive a measly subsidy of €20 per week. Providers are free to increase their fees well above subsidy levels. The subsidy level needs to be increased to middle-income workers who need support with their childcare costs.

  • We will invest an additional €81m to increase the universal childcare subsidy from €20 per week to €80 per week.
  • We will consider introducing fee caps for childcare services if costs to parents are not reduced.

2.  Establish a Childminders Tax Credit

Parents know what is best for their children. While this is often creches, many other families choose to use childminders. This should be supported. We will directly support working parents with a progressive tax credit worth €2,000 for average income households who rely on non-relative registered childminders. We will work to increase the number of registered childminders by introducing fit-for-purpose regulations.

  • We will introduce a tax credit for registered childminders of 0-3-year olds worth €2,000 for average income households at a cost of €26m.

Increase the Home Carer Tax Credit

  • Many parents wish to stay at home full-time with their children. This is a vital contribution to their family, and we wish to extend further support to these families by increasing the Home Carer Tax Credit to €2000 per year.
  • We will increase the Home Carer Tax Credit to €2000 per year at a cost of €30m.

Expand the ECCE Scheme to 40 weeks

3.  The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme

ECCE provides for a programme of early learning for children before commencing primary school. We will strengthen the scheme by expanding it out to 40 weeks so that all children will be entitled to 80 weeks of ECCE services.

  • We will expand the ECCE scheme from 38 to 40 weeks at a cost of €17.2m

4.  Ensure price transparency in childcare facilities

For many parents the subsidy from the state is being swallowed up by increased childcare costs that leaves them no better off. We will introduce legislation to require all registered childcare providers to display a full list of prices in their establishment as well as on websites and other pages they operate, and to submit their price data to a central price register that is similar to the residential property price register.

  • We will introduce a childcare price register.
  • Facilitate Au Pairs

It is estimated that 20,000 families use au pairs as part of their childcare. The au pair experience can be a deeply enriching experience for au pairs and their host families, when managed well. At present, there is no legal definition of au pairs, and a series of Workplace Relation Commission cases have ensued.

  • We will provide legal certainty and help ensure families can continue to use Au Pairs into the future on fair terms.

5.  Expand Maternity benefit from 26 to 30 weeks and allow parents to share leave

  • In order to give parents the option to spend more time with a child during their special first few months, maternity leave should be increased to 30 weeks. We recognise that not every family is the same, and to

give families increased choice, we will allow parents to share these weeks, if they so wish.

Real Action:

  • Expand Maternity leave to 30 weeks at a cost of €38.8m.
  • Protect the first 14 weeks of leave as core maternity leave and 4 weeks as core paternity leave and allow parents to share the remainder of paid and unpaid leave as they choose.
  • Expand Paternity Benefit to 4 weeks

6.  Paid Paternity Leave

The creation of paid paternity leave is an important step in enabling fathers to play an active role in the formative months of a child’s life and moving towards greater equality in familial responsibilities.

  • We will double paternity leave to give fathers the opportunity to spend precious time with their newborn at a cost of €11.2m.

Launch a new round of capital expansion of childcare facilities

The expansion of the childcare sector is vital to giving parents choice. This will require substantial capital investment to build the kind of facilities required and help expand places. The state has an important role to play in co- operation with private and community childcare providers.

Real Action:

  • We will ensure full investment in expanding childcare facilities.
  • Create a Commercial Rates relief fund for childcare providers . Childcare providers must currently pay substantial commercial rates on their facilities. These extra costs are then passed onto parents. Furthermore, this creates a perverse incentive to maintain smaller inappropriate facilities.
  • We will address this with a €10m relief fund for commercial rates.
  • Develop a new range of child care apprenticeships to attract staff

Attracting additional, committed staff into viable long-term careers is crucial to building a viable sector. Solas should broaden out the scope of its apprenticeship programmes to encompass childcare provision.

  • We will create 1000 Childcare apprenticeships at a cost of €9.9m.

7. Reform Tusla

Too many children are failed by Ireland’s child protection and care system, which needs urgent reform.

Real Action:

  • Reduce childcare costs with increased subsidies
  • Launch a new childcare tax credit to reduce registered childminder costs
  • Lengthen Maternity Benefit to 30 weeks and allow for shared leave
  • Double the Child Benefit Payment for the first month on the birth of a first child
  • Create Edible Playgrounds so that children can grow their own fruit and veg in school
  • Protect children from online pornography & gambling with new internet filtering laws
  • Reduce average primary school class size to 20:1 in the next government

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