Paternity benefit to be paid to fathers from next June
Good news for those planning on making a baby in the next few months: According to today's Irish Independent the State will begin paying two weeks worth of paternity benefits to fathers from as early as June next year.
The budget is due to be announced next month, and this new measure, knows as the childcare package, is a central plank of the Coalition's childcare strategy. This strategy is largely shaped by an interdepartmental report unveiled earlier this year.
Something that will also be of a relief to many, is that according to Children's Minister James Reilly there is also set to be a special focus on reducing the cost of pre-school and after-school services, especially for families who have children with special needs. Specific measures aimed at reducing the burden on parents will be brought in incrementally over the life-span of the next Government.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dr Reilly said the package would aim to end "poor quality childcare" that can have a "detrimental effect on children".
The Minister continued:
"But for me as Minister for Children, I wish to be able to make a really solid start in this Budget in relation to childcare support that's affordable, accessible and of a quality that improves the outcomes of children and also addresses some of the needs of some of those with special needs in the pre-school area and also after-care."
But despite the good news, he was also realistic in his predictions:
"Clearly, it can't all be done in one year. I don't think that is either plausible nor wise to even attempt it. But what we can do is make a strong start and send a very strong message that in this Budget, the first of five more if this Government is re-elected, we will incrementally address the childcare issues through a very clear plan in relation to the areas that are of concern to us."
Sounds good to us, Minister.