It has been revealed today that the State will commence paying out two weeks’ worth of paternity benefit from June next year. The measure is a central plank of the Coalition's childcare strategy due to be announced as part of next month's Budget.
There will also be a special focus on reducing the cost of pre-school and after-school care services, especially for families who have children with special needs. The childcare package will be treated in a similar fashion in the Budget to the reform of the Universal Social Charge (USC).
Meanwhile, Children's Minister James Reilly said reducing the cost of pre-school and crèche facilities for families, especially those with children with special needs, will also be kicked started in 2016. However, he did not specify the form in which benefits will be paid to families.
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".
Specific measures aimed at reducing the burden on parents will be brought in incrementally over the life-span of the next Government. But sources say there are considerable negotiations still required before an overall package is agreed. However, agreement has been reached on the issue of paternity benefit.