The Children’s Rights Alliance has called for a series of measures in tomorrow's Budget to increase parental leave and childcare subsidies.
The measures, they claim, would cost at least €116m.
The organisation's pre-Budget priorities also include greater supports for families with older children as well as those in Direct Provision and investment in a new Family Law and Children’s Court.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “Irish children have suffered for too long as a result of decades of underinvestment in areas such as childcare, family supports and early-years education.
“At present, the cost of childcare is now effectively a second mortgage and there is a severe shortage of good quality childcare. We also know that families with older children are struggling to make ends meet and finding it hard to feed and clothe their children. Children in Direct Provision are still treated differently to all other children and are struggling with the shame of poverty.
“These inequalities were not addressed during the last economic boom. Now that we are in a period of recovery, concrete actions must be taken to ensure that every child and family in Ireland has access to these fundamental supports.”
The Budget priorities outlined by the Children’s Rights Alliance include the following:
- Allocate €40 million to introduce one month’s paid parental leave in Budget 2019 as a first step in the introduction of paid family leave that, when combined with paid maternity and paternity leave, allows parents to take leave for the entirety of the first year of a child’s life.
- Increase the weekly allowance for children in Direct Provision to €31.80 – at a total cost of approximately €800,000 – to ensure that children in Direct Provision are treated equally to other children whose parents are in receipt of social welfare payments.
- Invest in a new Family Law and Children’s Court complex on Hammond Lane in Dublin 7 – a purpose-built children and family law court complex, to ensure proceedings involving children are heard in a non-intimidating and child-sensitive setting.
- Allocate an additional €40 million to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to meet the demand for childcare subsidies, including €10 million to increase the full-time universal childcare subsidy rate from €20 to €30 per week per child under three years to make childcare more affordable for families.
- Introduce a higher rate of Qualified Child Increase for children over the age of 12, bringing this weekly social welfare payment from €31.80 to €36.80 (total cost: €35 million), in recognition of the higher costs faced by families with older children.