Have your say in independent review of childcare services in Northern Ireland

The Department of Education (DE) has commissioned a Review of Childcare Services in Northern Ireland to inform the development of the Executive’s new Childcare Strategy. This independent review is being carried out by research company RSM, with support from the National Children’s Bureau, Dr Glenda Walsh of Stranmillis University College and LucidTalk.

The review wants to understand the current state of the childcare sector in Northern Ireland, including the supply and demand of childcare services, their accessibility and affordability, the financial health of providers and any workforce challenges faced by the sector.

It will involve interviews with key stakeholders and childcare providers, surveys with childcare providers and parents with children aged 0-14, and focus groups with parents and carers.

The surveys for parents and childcare providers are now live, and we would encourage all childcare providers and parents to complete the relevant survey as soon as possible, and before they close on 30 September 2022.

Complete the survey for parents

Parents and carers of children aged between 0 and 14 years of age in Northern Ireland: Click here to complete the survey for parents.

Please note, your answers will be anonymous.

Complete the survey for childcare providers

If you manage a childcare setting or are a registered provider of childcare services in Northern Ireland (including registered childminders of different types): Click here to complete the survey for childcare providers.

Please note you don’t have to complete the survey in one go and your privacy and anonymity will always be protected.

What next?

The information collected through these surveys will be used to inform the development of the Executive’s new Childcare Strategy. The output of the Review will be a detailed, evidence-based, research report, due in December 2022.

This is an important piece of work, that should build on the wealth of existing evidence in place, including over a decade of our own research from the Northern Ireland Childcare Survey. Over the years, tens of thousands of parents and childcare providers here have highlighted through our research that they need to see investment in our childcare sector which allows parents to access and afford the childcare they need, and supports providers to deliver high quality childcare sustainably.

At the same time, we are calling for the Department of Education to set out a clear timeline for the publication of the new Childcare Strategy, which remains long overdue, and has already been significantly delayed. This is much to the frustration and deep worry of the childcare sector and those who rely on it, particularly at a time when the sector is facing significant challenges as a result of rising costs. This is critical to maintain momentum, building on all the work of the last few years, to finally turn planning into progress, and progress into policy – policy that really delivers for families, childcare providers and our economy and society as a whole.