Barnardos & Start Strong. (2012). Towards a Scandinavian Childcare System for 0-12 Year Olds in Ireland? https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/109
Barnardos and Start Strong have worked together to prepare this short paper that compares the
current provision of childcare and after-school services in Ireland for 0-12 year olds with the
Scandinavian systems to which Minister Burton referred.
Scandinavian childcare is widely regarded as being among the best in the world, and the outcomes
for children and families are very positive. Educational attainment is high, child poverty rates are
among the lowest in the world, and there is a high labour market participation rate among parents,
including lone parents. But a Scandinavian childcare system comes at a cost – the level of
Government investment in childcare in the Scandinavian countries is far higher than in Ireland.
Barnardos and Start Strong would warmly welcome a bankable Government commitment to develop
a Scandinavian childcare system in Ireland. In this paper we identify the key features that this would
involve and we make recommendations on initial steps that should be taken to move in this
direction. However, we are under no illusions about the scale of change and additional investment
that would be required. In the current economic climate, a Scandinavian childcare system is likely to
remain a long-term goal, rather than a short-term prospect. The Minister’s proposal to reform the
One Parent Family Payment should therefore be postponed well beyond the proposed 2014 /15
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