Getting 'Early Years' plan right is vital for future of our children
Much of the discussion in recent days around the Government developing a new State-subsidised childcare programme has focused on how this move, if it happens, will impact on "squeezed, middle-income" families.
Let's start by getting one thing straight: parenting, arguably the hardest job in the world, is undoubtedly made all the more stressful when trying desperately to make ends meet. It's a challenge that many of us experience or can identify with. After all, Ireland's childcare costs are the highest in the OECD area and are utterly crippling to many families. This clearly needs to change.
This is a debate about a service for children. At all times, what is designed and proposed must be for their benefit and advantage, above all else. The care and education given to children in crèches and preschools, helps them to flourish. In the first five years of life, children's brains develop faster than at any other time, setting the foundation for lifelong learning, health and wellbeing.