All Party Group on Early Education and Childcare re-elects officers

The All Party Group on Early Education and Childcare met this week (Wednesday 24 May 2023) for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) to confirm membership for the year ahead and to elect officers.

The Annual General Meeting of the Group saw Nicola Brogan (Sinn Féin) re-elected as Chair and Diane Dodds (DUP), Sinead McLaughlin (SDLP) and Nick Mathison (Alliance) re-elected to the positions of Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

The Group re-affirmed its purpose to drive policy and legislative development, promote best practice and improve practical provision in relation to the delivery of early education and childcare in Northern Ireland on a cross-party, cross-departmental and cross-sector basis. The Group also discussed the urgent, pressing challenges facing the sector at this time which are causing great concern and pose an immediate threat both to the sector’s viability and to the ability of parents to access and afford the childcare they need, an issue which is already affecting many families. This discussion will inform the work plan for the Group going forward.

Speaking following the meeting, Nicola Brogan said: “I am delighted to have been re-elected to the role of Chair of the All Party Group on Early Education and Childcare at this critically important time as we work towards securing progress on the new Early Learning and Childcare Strategy, which is much needed and long overdue. We will also seek to address some of the immediate challenges facing the sector, and the families who rely on it.

I would like to congratulate the other office bearers who have been re-elected, and look forward to working constructively with them and with the wider membership of the group, as well as Departmental officials and stakeholders from across the sector, to secure the investment and support that is so urgently needed.

We know – through hearing directly from parents, childcare providers and employers – that childcare is a critical issue which must be a day one priority for a new Executive. There is much work to be done, and I am committed to ensuring that this Group will be a positive forum pressing both for urgent action and for longer-term, meaningful change.”

Looking ahead

The All Party Group on Early Education and Childcare will meet on a regular basis, working constructively with the Departments of Education and Health and other key stakeholders to continue its work to inform and secure progress on the new Early Learning and Childcare Strategy, and to drive policy and legislative development and promote best practice.

The Group routinely hears from individuals and organisations – from Northern Ireland and from further afield – sharing their experience, evidence and expertise to help inform understanding of the critical role of childcare, and the issues facing families, childcare providers and employers.

The next meeting of the Group will take place on Wednesday 21 June in Parliament Buildings, Stormont, when members will hear from Melted Parents NI, a campaign group of parents who are calling for childcare reform.

In the meantime, the Group will be writing to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education to request an urgent meeting to discuss the impact of the current financial situation and uncertainty around funding for the sector. The Group will seek views from the sector to bring forward at this meeting.

Further information

Further information about the All Party Group, and a link to updates from previous meetings, can be found here.

Employers For Childcare provides the Secretariat for the All Party Group on Early Education and Childcare – correspondence to or 028 9267 8200.