Employers For Childcare publishes its Policy Manifesto ahead of the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election

The 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election, scheduled for Thursday 5 May, presents a real opportunity for our political parties and elected representatives to set out an ambitious platform for a better Northern Ireland. One where barriers to work, education and training have been overcome, and businesses can prosper. Where we are on course to eliminating poverty from our society. Where all of us can achieve our potential, and children and young people have the best start in life. Where we have truly ‘built back better’ from the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges of the previous years.

The May election provides an opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to have their voices heard and to make clear to the political parties that they need to see them coming together to deliver real progress and change on the day-to-day issues that are impacting on every home and business.

Following the election, the next step will be agreeing the actions, and committing the resources, to deliver an ambitious Programme for Government that will tackle the most pressing issues facing Northern Ireland, across all sectors, in order to rebuild our society and regrow our economy as we begin to emerge from Covid-19. For that, we will need an Executive to be formed, Ministers to be appointed and our new MLAs to get on with the business that people will have elected them to. This is more important than ever in the midst of a cost of living crisis that is impacting on everyone, and looks set to worsen over the coming year, with a significant increase projected in the number of people living in extreme poverty.

What are we calling for?

Through our work with parents, childcare providers and employers we have developed our Policy Manifesto, setting out the key issues that must be addressed as priorities for the new mandate.

You can download our full Manifesto here. In summary, we are calling on the new Northern Ireland Executive to commit to:

  1. Delivering an ambitious, inclusive and fully funded Childcare Strategy.
  2. Taking action to increase uptake of financial support with registered childcare costs.
  3. Ensuring all jobs are ‘better jobs’ where employees can benefit from flexible, family friendly working policies.
  4. Ending poverty in Northern Ireland.
  5. Unlocking the added positive social value of a thriving social economy.

Welcoming the publication of the Manifesto, Marie Marin, Chief Executive of Employers For Childcare urged candidates to put the needs of children, families, childcare providers and our economy front and centre:

“Achieving these commitments will require bold decisions and strategic investment. But the consequences of not doing so would be serious and far-reaching, as well as costly – impacting negatively not just in 2022, but on generations to come. In particular, we are calling for work that is underway on a new – and long overdue – Childcare Strategy, to be a day one priority for the new Executive.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore just how critical childcare is to children, families and the economy as a whole. But the time for warm words of recognition, and temporary support measures, has passed – we need to see strategic long-term planning, underpinned by significant investment to achieve the world-class childcare infrastructure that parents need, childcare providers are ready to deliver and our children deserve.”

So what can you do?

Your voice is essential. This is your opportunity to use tell politicians what is important to you and what they need to do to improve the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland.

You can contact your local MLAs through the TheyWorkForYou website. Alternatively, here are some questions you can ask the politicians who come to your door ahead of the election:

Five questions to ask your candidates this election…

Our key priority for the new mandate is to secure progress on a funded Childcare Strategy and support for our vital childcare sector, and the parents who rely on it. So here are five questions that you can ask candidates who come to your door:

  • What will you do to ensure that high-quality childcare is affordable for all parents?
  • How will you support the childcare sector to deliver the high-quality, flexible affordable childcare that parents need and that gives children the best start in life? 
  • How will you ensure better recognition, pay and conditions for our vital early years and childcare workforce?
  • How will you encourage employers to support working parents through flexible, family friendly policies that help them to achieve a positive work-life balance?
  • The cost of living crisis is affecting all of us, and the number of people living in poverty is expected to increase. So while we await the new Childcare Strategy, what will you do NOW to help reduce costs for childcare providers and for parents?

 You can personalise your questions, sharing your own experience to help explain why this issue matters to you, and what solutions you would like to see.