The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’ Gorman, has published the government’s First 5 Annual Implementation Reports 2020 and 2021/22.
First 5, the ten-year whole-of-government strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families (2019-2028) was published in November 2018 followed by an initial implementation plan for the Strategy in May 2019.
The reports highlight how the interim target set for paid parents leave – of 7 weeks per parent by 2021 – has been reached; the interim target of a 30% graduate early learning and childcare workforce by 2021 exceeded and the investment target for early learning and childcare – of €970 million by 2028 – has been exceeded five years ahead of schedule.
The Report also outlines key achievements over the period 2020 – 2022, including:
- An extension of paid parents leave and extended entitlements to unpaid parent leave.
- The publication of Supporting Parents, A New Model of Parenting Support Services to improve awareness of, and access to, parenting support services.
- A range of new measures to promote healthier childhoods.
- Major reforms to the early learning and care system.
- A range of measures to help families struggling with the cost of living and to reduce the risk of early childhood poverty.
First 5 focuses on the period of early childhood, from the antenatal period to age five, and takes a joined-up, cross-government approach to supporting babies, young children and their families during these critical early years.
Speaking about the publication, Minister O’ Gorman said, “as Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, I am delighted to publish the First 5 Annual Implementation Reports 2020 and 2021/22 and share an update on the very considerable progress that has been made to deliver on First 5 commitments.”
“Over the last few years, we have extended paid parents leave, improved parent support services, and are now investing €1 billion annually in early learning and childcare. All of this is making a hugely positive change in the lives of children and their families. These reports illustrate the positive work that is taking place right across Government and society to ensure children get the best possible start in life.”
The Minister welcomed the collaborative efforts and shared ambition to deliver on the vision of First 5 across government departments, State agencies and the community and voluntary sector and reiterated Government’s continued commitment to First 5.
Speaking about future work under First 5, Minister O’ Gorman said, “we delivered on a range of key commitments in First 5 that are tangibly improving the lives of babies, young children and their families, and are significantly enhancing life-long outcomes. But there is more to be done if we are to fully realise the vision of First 5.”
“As we embark on the development of a new implementation plan for First 5 for the period 2023-2025, I look forward to continued positive collaboration with colleagues across government departments, State agencies, community and voluntary sector and wider partners in the pursuit of better outcomes for babies, young children and their families.”