Today I have put down the following motion for debate in the Seanad:
That Seanad Eireann, mindful of Ireland’s unprecedented national wealth, urges the Minister for Finance to give far greater resources in the next Budget to childcare and the difficulties encountered by parents of children attending crèches, primary or secondary schools.
In particular Seanad Eireann urges the Minister to set up structures unlocking parents from the difficulties encountered by huge bills for crèches if they decide to work outside the home, aimed at giving them real choices about whether to rejoin the workforce or to care for their children themselves.
I am also seconding Senator Joe O’Toole’s motion:
That Seanad Eireann urges the Government to begin the process of implementing the recommendations of a number of recent reports on childcare by providing funds in the forthcoming Budget to phase in the following five initiatives:
1. extending maternity leave to 26 weeks;
2. introducing paid parental leave of 26 weeks;
3. making free childcare places available to all three year olds;
4. establishing an accreditation body to ensure that all of the various suppliers of early childhood care and education are recognised and qualified; and
5. making one Minister of State in one Department responsible for the area of early childhood care and education.