10th Annual Northern Ireland Childcare Survey launched
Employers For Childcare launched its 10th Annual Northern Ireland Childcare Survey at an event in Parliament Buildings, Belfast on Wednesday 19 June 2019. This report is unique in being based on direct research with over 3,500 parents and childcare providers across Northern Ireland.
The launch event, which was ‘standing room only’ was sponsored by MLAs Chris Lyttle (Alliance), Paula Bradley (DUP) and Catherine Kelly (Sinn Féin) and was attended by over 60 key stakeholders from across the childcare sector. This included policy-makers from government departments, as well as a wide range of representative and partnership organisations with a key role in childcare issues. Elected representatives (MPs, MLAs and local councillors) from all the political parties were also in attendance.
Those who attended were presented with the key findings from the 2019 report by Dr Alexandra Chapman from Employers For Childcare, lead researcher and author of the report:
- the average cost of a full-time childcare place is £166 per week, or £8,632 per year
- the cost of a week’s holiday childcare has gone up by £52 over the past 10 years and now costs £145 on average
- 41% of parents are using means other than their income, such as loans or credit cards to pay their childcare bill – this rises to over 50% for lone parent households
- 1 in 10 lone parent households are spending over half their income on childcare
- almost three quarters of childcare providers (73%) reported an increase in their expenditure in the past year, with only 29% reporting an increase in income.
A highlight of the event was a video presentation from a number of parents, who spoke very openly about their own childcare challenges and what they would like to see from Government by way of enhanced support for working parents. We were also delighted to have the childcare provider voice represented, with a thoughtful and challenging presentation from Maria McDonagh, owner of Adventures Day Nursery, who outlined the challenges facing childcare providers around the delivery of a high quality childcare service and the lack of support available to parents.
Aoife Hamilton, Policy and Information Manager at Employers For Childcare reminded attendees that parents and childcare providers cannot wait any longer for Government to act on this. She called for a fundamental overhaul of the system to ensure a high quality, sustainable childcare infrastructure that is affordable for parents to access, and for providers to deliver. In the context of the current talks, Aoife reminded our elected representatives that investment in childcare must be a priority for any new Executive, underpinned by a fully costed childcare strategy which learns from experiences in other jurisdictions and is supported by legislation.
Attendees also heard directly from the MLAs who sponsored the event. Welcoming guests, Chris Lyttle reflected on his engagement with Employers For Childcare in promoting the Northern Ireland Childcare Survey over the last 10 years. He noted that childcare has been a priority issue in the ongoing talks around a new Programme for Government, and stated that a “tipping point” has been reached where substantive action is now critical to support families and childcare providers, and ensure that quality childcare is affordable. Commenting on the findings, Catherine Kelly reflected that childcare is as important to the economy as investment in the construction of our roads and that, rather than a separate ‘women’s’ or ‘family’ issue it needs to regarded as integral to our economic future, and finished with a fitting quote from Nelson Mandela: ‘History will judge us by the everyday differences we make in the lives of children’. Closing the event, Paula Bradley shared that there is political consensus and a strong call for action on childcare in Northern Ireland. She recognised that there is a collective responsibility on our elected representatives to make sure that families and children in Northern Ireland are not facing into poverty, and that a key element in this is having a robust childcare strategy that works for everyone.
The full Northern Ireland Childcare Survey 2019 research report, and Executive Summary is available to download here.
Watch the video below, where parents share their views on childcare in Northern Ireland and what they would like to see Government do to support working parents with their childcare costs: