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Parents should have option to stay at home in child's first year, says Zappone

The Minister for Children was speaking ahead of a new 10-year childhood strategy.

Image: Shutterstock/Tamada

MINSTER FOR CHILDREN Katherine Zappone has said that both parents should have the option of staying home in their child’s first year if they want to. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland ahead of launching the government’s ‘First 5′ strategy, the minister said that supports should be in place to enable parents to do this. 

The government’s strategy for babies, young children and families includes the provision for up to seven weeks’ paid parental leave which will be implemented by the Departments of Justice and Social Protection by 2021, the minister said. 

‘First 5′ – which will be implemented between 2019 and 2028 – sets out five objectives including a new model of parenting support, a new funding model for the Early Learning and Care (ELC) system and parental options to balance work and care. 

Fianna Fáil recently introduced a members bill to the Dáil proposing both parents of a child share the 26 week period of paid maternity leave between them. 

Other measures outlined in the new “whole of government” approach today include tackling childhood poverty.

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Under the new strategy, baby boxes and book bags will be rolled out for children in their first years while a hot meals pilot project is set to commence next year in all Department of Education and Skills (DEIS) schools.

Described by Zappone as “a road map for the future of early childhood in Ireland,” the strategy will be reviewed every three years with a detailed implementation plan due in the coming months. 

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