The death of a child is a tragic event for any parent.
According to the CSO data for deaths of those aged less than 19 years in 2016, there were 354 deaths in the year. The statistics also indicate that the majority of these child deaths, 194, occurred during the first year. My Department continues to pay Maternity Benefit for the 26 weeks for stillborn babies born after 24 weeks of pregnancy or on the death of an infant.
Under existing social welfare schemes, there are provisions in place for continued payment of welfare schemes or allowances for up to 6 weeks following the death of a child. Similarly, Domiciliary Care Allowance will continue to be paid for 3 months in cases where the child being cared for has died.
Under the Supplementary Allowance scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet from their weekly income. An application can be made for assistance with funeral and burial expenses where there is an inability to pay these costs, in part or in full, by the family of the deceased person without causing hardship. In 2018 some 2,900 ENPs were paid at a cost of €5.5 million following a bereavement.
In terms of providing a specific benefit for two weeks bereavement leave for both parents in respect of a deceased child at the rate of €203 per week could cost would be in the region of €300,000.
Any such changes would have to be considered in the context of existing policies in this area and within the scope of the overall budgetary context.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.