Executive must deliver immediate support to struggling families and childcare sector as well as long-term investment through new Childcare Strategy
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, has responded positively to the return of the Northern Ireland Executive, and the clear focus being placed on childcare issues.
Commenting as the new Ministers took up their roles today [Monday 5 February], the charity’s Chief Executive, Marie Marin, said: “We have been really heartened over the past number of days to hear so many of our elected representatives, as well as business organisations and others, echo our call for childcare to be a day one priority for the new Executive. Indeed, to hear this singled out in speeches by the new First and deputy First Ministers, as well as the Justice Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, is hugely encouraging. It is rightly now accepted that investment in childcare is essential for our economy and underpins many of the other critical issues facing our new Executive.”
“Now that Ministers are back at their desks, we have two clear asks. Firstly, we need to see urgent emergency financial support for the sector, to mitigate against incoming childcare fee increases in April as a result of the rise in the National Minimum Wage. Secondly, we need to see immediate progress on an ambitious new Early Learning and Childcare Strategy that properly recognises the value of childcare as key economic infrastructure and that supports parents to work, while also investing in children’s futures and helping to lift families out of poverty”.
Marie continues: “The time for warm words is over – we need to see action, and we need to see it quickly, to support childcare providers who are struggling to stay in business and to help families who are facing yet another unaffordable increase in their childcare costs”.
She concludes: “We and others across the sector stand ready to work constructively with our new Ministers to secure the new Strategy, and ambitious financial investment that is needed to ensure we have a thriving, high quality and affordable early learning and childcare sector that is sustainable in the longer-term. But without immediate, short term support our childcare sector, and the families who rely on it, will continue to face into an ever worsening crisis”.
- For further information contact Sandra Bolan, PR & Communications Manager on 0787 247 0323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Employers For Childcare is the leading organisation in Northern Ireland campaigning for better support with childcare. Our work is informed through extensive research going back to 2010. Since then, the Northern Ireland Childcare Survey has platformed the views of 50,000 parents and childcare providers. It is the most comprehensive survey into childcare in Northern Ireland. The latest survey is available here, which showed the average cost of a full-time childcare place was over £10,000 a year for one child.
We have used our research, work with colleagues across the sector and international evidence to develop proposals for an Early Learning and Childcare Strategy that would tackle disadvantage through enabling parents to work and helping to give children and young people the best start in life – available here.