Childcare must be a day one priority for new Executive – families and childcare sector need urgent support

The charity Employers For Childcare, which has, for the past two decades, led the work in Northern Ireland lobbying for better support with childcare on behalf of families, employers and the childcare sector, is calling for childcare to be a day one priority for the restored Executive.

Welcoming news of a Stormont deal that would see devolved Government back up and running in Northern Ireland, the charity’s Chief Executive, Marie Marin said: “We welcome the return of the Executive and must now ensure that delivering progress on the long overdue and much needed new Early Learning and Childcare Strategy is at the very top of its agenda as a day one priority. We know our politicians, across all parties, have expressed their commitment to delivering on childcare. But the time for talking is over. We now need to see promises translated into policies that put pounds into the pockets of families, and investment into our critical childcare infrastructure – and very quickly.

“While we have been continuing to work constructively over the past two years with elected representatives and other key stakeholders to progress work on the new Strategy, it requires the Executive, and appropriate funding, to deliver the support that parents and the childcare sector have been telling us for many years that they need. Investment in childcare is at the backbone of our economy and society – supporting parents to work, lifting families out of poverty and also delivering significant long-term benefits for children’s development. Yet Northern Ireland families have fallen further behind those in other parts of these islands in terms of the financial support available to them.

Marie concludes: “We and others across the sector stand ready to work with our new Ministers to deliver this much-needed Strategy and look forward to continuing the positive engagement with our elected representatives to ensure that another generation of children and parents do not miss out on this vital support.”