New support scheme for childcare welcome as a key first step towards a long-term Early Learning and Childcare Strategy

The charity Employers For Childcare, which has, for the past two decades, led the work in Northern Ireland campaigning for better support with childcare, has welcomed the announcement of a new support scheme for childcare by Education Minister, Paul Givan. The Minister brought forward a paper, which was agreed at today’s Executive meeting, detailing a £25 million package of measures to support families and the childcare sector.

The plan announced today sets out a range of supports for childcare including an emergency support fund for struggling childcare providers, further investment in Sure Start and other existing Department of Education schemes such as Pathway and Toybox and work to progress the standardisation of pre-school education, which was first announced in 2022. Importantly it also includes a new Northern Ireland Childcare Subsidy Scheme to reduce childcare fees – initially for eligible working parents with children below primary school age – due to roll out from September of this year.

Commenting on the announcement, Employers For Childcare Chief Executive Marie Marin said: “We very much welcome the measures announced in today’s plan as a first step from the Executive in making good on their promise to address childcare as a key priority. The announcement of a bespoke Childcare Subsidy Scheme for Northern Ireland is what we have been calling for, for some time, and reflects proposals we have shared with parties and with the Minister. While we are yet to see the full details of how it will be implemented, it is a much-needed tangible action to help tackle the affordability crisis which is facing families and the childcare sector, albeit the benefit of this in terms of reduced fees won’t be felt for a number of months. We will be working to see the scheme expanded in terms of the funding allocation beyond the initial £9 million, and to include all parents, for children of all ages, but appreciate that this is a first step.

“This is a positive day for many parents and providers, and reflects long years of work involving parents, the childcare sector and countless other stakeholders. There is more work to do, and we will continue to press for further investment, but this is an important milestone recognising the challenges facing parents and providers and the key role of childcare as part of our economic infrastructure.

“We at Employers For Childcare have been campaigning for support for, and investment in, our childcare sector for over two decades and we are pleased that this has finally been recognised as a priority by Government. Now that some measures have been announced to tackle the immediate crisis, we also need to move towards longer-term planning and secure the investment needed to deliver an ambitious new Early Learning and Childcare Strategy with a focus on delivering affordable, but also high-quality early learning and childcare, through a workforce that is properly valued. We, and our colleagues across the sector stand ready to provide the support needed to make this a reality, recognising the clear benefits that investment in high quality early learning and childcare brings to our economy and society”.



  1. For further information contact Sandra Bolan, PR & Communications Manager on 0787 247 0323 or email
  2. 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.
  3. 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.