As CEO of Start Strong, a coalition group campaigning to improve government policy on childcare and family leave in Ireland, I am calling on all General Election candidates to make a promise to children.
For too long childcare has been underfunded and under-resourced by successive governments. In 2016, this must change. All young children deserve care that is affordable, of high quality and accessible to all.
Children also deserve the opportunity to be cared for at home by their parents for the critical first year of life. Research shows this is best for babies, but Ireland’s current parental leave policies only provide for six months’ maternity leave – a full year less than the EU average.
We call on the next government to strengthen family leave by introducing an extra six months’ paid parental leave.
Business group Chambers Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions support our calls for quality, affordable and accessible early years. Now we need our politicians to act. We call on all candidates in this constituency to sign our Promise to Children on www.earlyyears.ie, to show voters that they truly care about our young children’s lives.
Voters are also able to view who has signed the promise on this website. We encourage all this newspaper’s readers to take note of who has signed up to the promise when they cast their ballots on Friday, 26 February.
Ciairín de Buis
CEO, Start Strong