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Sinn Féin welcome funding for childcare but long term provision needs secured

19 February, 2009 - by Jennifer McCann

Sinn Fein MLA, Jennifer McCann, welcomed the £1.5 million given for the continuation to fund existing childcare places but said more needed to be done to increase the level of childcare provision in all.

Speaking today Ms McCann said:

"I welcome the £1.5 million from the Department of Social Development to fund 2,000 existing childcare places for another year. However to secure a long term childcare strategy, to ensure the sustainability of childcare provision and allow equal access for parents wishing to access employment or training opportunities, is the next step.

"The provision of quality affordable childcare is the responsibility of a number of government departments and we need a cross departmental approach if we are serious about delivering a strategy that will have lasting benefits to families, communities and the economy as a whole.

"A number of factors need examined. The fact that this funding is for another year and not, for example, three, five or ten years disadvantages those who wish to take long term employment opportunities.

"On top of this, childcare costs within the north of Ireland are subsidised by only 25% compared to the rest of Europe where as much as 75 % of childcare costs are paid by governments.

"The lack of adequate childcare places results in barriers for women who want to return to education, training or employment.

"The Executive needs to send a clear message that they are serious in tackling the lack of childcare provision both in rural and urban communities by putting a clear, cross departmental, childcare strategy in place. They must also come to us with amplified targets to build on the current provision that is available." ENDS

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