'We need to stop dropping six-month-old babies off in the creche every morning,' warn groups
Ireland needs to address the practice of 'six-month-old babies being dropped in their PJs to the creche at 6.45 am every morning - where they are going to remain all day' says children’s rights groups.
Speaking at an Oireachtas children’s committee on the issue of affordable and quality childcare, Early Childhood Ireland CEO Teresa Heeney said this scenario of day-long creche care was “not what we want for our children”.
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Her position that the Government needs to “invest in one year of parental leave” for all parents was supported by Ciairín de Buis, director of Start Strong, who said the Government should be putting money into keeping parents at home rather than subsidising childcare.
Ms de Buis said research showed that "for at least the first year of life, children do best when they are cared for at home by their parents."
Addressing the committee, the National Women’s Council of Ireland said there was international evidence showing that providing leave from employment for parents in the first year of a child’s life “reaps benefits in the long term”.
NWCI Director Orla O’Connor said there was an opportunity in the forthcoming Family Leave Bill to provide statutory paid parental leave.
“Parental leave should be provided for six months on a paid basis through a social protection payment so that either parent can take it,” she said.
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Ms O’Connor added the absence of paternity leave sent “a very strong message as to which parent should be the primary carer, reinforcing stereotypes”.
In addition to a system of paid leave which supports mothers and fathers to combine work and family life, the committee heard that the low investment in Ireland’s pre-school services was affecting quality.
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Ms de Buis, whose organisation advocates for high-quality care as a right for children, said public spending in the area was “less than 0.2pc GDP — well below the average OECD early years investment of 0.8 pc GDP.”