Start Strong

Start Strong E-Newsletter July 2015



The Inter-Departmental Group established by the Government has published its recommendations on future investment in childcare. The report definitely points in the right direction, though there are gaps, it is short on timeframes and there is a big challenge in implementation.  


In particular, we welcome the strong case the report makes for making childcare more affordable through income-related subsidies paid directly to services, rather than through tax credits. Direct subsidies are the only way to improve affordability and quality at the same time. 


This e-newsletter gives a summary of the report's recommendations, latest news on the general election campaign, our Pre-Budget Submission, and updates on family leave, the new education-focused inspectorate, the delay in the minimum qualification requirement, and more. 


It's been a busy few months. August may be a little quieter, but come September the Budget will be upon us and the election round the corner. You can keep in touch with us by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. We are always keen to get your feedback and comments. 


August won't be a quiet month for all of us. We send our best wishes to Tressan, our Communications and Campaigns Officer, as she heads off on maternity leave.


We hope you have a great summer! 

The team at Start Strong - Ciair�n, Toby and Lorraine   

Inter-Departmental Group: the right direction - the challenge is implementation   

The report of the Inter-Departmental Group was launched on 22 July, presenting recommendations and policy options to the Government.

While the report does not say enough on professionalisation, the overall policy direction is the right one, and Start Strong has welcomed the report. We particularly welcome that the report makes a very strong case for using income-related subsidies instead of tax credits as the means to address the affordability of childcare.
The challenge now is implementation: will the Government invest on a sufficient scale, and start doing so this autumn?


Read more 

Pre-Budget Submission 2016  

Start Strong logo

We're likely to see some action taken on childcare in Budget 2016, to be announced in mid-October. But it's by no means clear what action the Government will take, or whether it will be enough. 


Start Strong's Pre-Budget Submission focuses on three areas: extending paid family leave; developing quality, affordable childcare through income-related subsidies paid directly to services; and extending free pre-school provision.



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General Election Campaign - let's make this an election for children!

watering-can-child.jpg The general election is at most 9 months away, and it may be even sooner. Influencing the election campaign is now the main focus of Start Strong's work.

To help ensure that children and young people are at the top of the next Government's agenda, Start Strong is teaming up with the Children's Rights Alliance and the National Youth Council of Ireland to develop a manifesto for all children and young people. We want this to be an Election for Children!    
EU pressure for childcare in Ireland


EU flag
As part of the EU's annual process of scrutinising Ireland's Budget, in May the Council of the European Union issued its 2015 "Country Specific Recommendations" for Ireland. 

While the Council highlighted the need for action on childcare, we were disappointed at the failure to mention the quality of childcare.

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Consultation on new DES inspectors   

The Department of Education and Skills (DES) has unveiled its plans for new "education-focused inspectors", and invited feedback from stakeholders.  


Our submission to the DES welcomes the educational focus and the plan to recruit new inspectors with qualifications and experience in early care and education, but raises a number of concerns. We argue that inspections should relate to whole settings (not just the pre-school year), should be merged with the Tusla inspectorate, and should be accompanied by national roll-out of S�olta and Aistear. 


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Professionalisation - going forwards or backwards?

graduate-woman.jpg Professionalisation is the key to ensuring high quality standards in all early care and education services.


That is why we were so disappointed in the recent decision by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to postpone the introduction of minimum qualification levels. And Government's reluctance to introduce salary scales continues to prevent real progress on professionalisation.  


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Parental leave and paternity leave

After years of campaigning by Start Strong and others, it finally looks as if paid parental leave and paternity leave are on the political agenda. The Inter-Departmental Group has recommended the introduction of 6 months' paid parental leave, and politicians from across the political spectrum are calling for both measures.


Start Strong, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the National Women's Council of Ireland have together produced an infographic that illustrates how far behind other European countries are Ireland's family leave entitlements.  


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Oireachtas Update - debates & PQs


Dail chamber

Our Oireachtas Update provides links to debates and questions raised in the Oireachtas since the previous newlsetter on issues relating to children's early care and education.   


This issue includes a series of hearings on early care and education in the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, a Seanad debate, discussion of childminders in relation to the Children First Bill, and parliamentary questions on changes to the One Parent Family Payment, children with special needs, affordability of childcare, and other issues.


Read more  


Start Strong
Advancing children's early care and education in Ireland

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