Childcare needs to be affordable - McCann
Sinn Féin Junior Minister Jennifer McCann has said that more needs to be done to provide childcare for working families.
Speaking after addressing the Employers for Childcare in Stormont Ms. McCann said,
“It is important to recognise the important work Employers for Childcare carries out, as quality childcare provision is fundamental if we want our society and economy to work successfully. Our Programme for Government commits us to publish and implement a childcare strategy—a strategy that will result in childcare provision that is both integrated and affordable.
“OFMDFM is coordinating work on the development of a new Childcare Strategy but we cannot develop this childcare strategy in isolation. It is vital that we receive the views of the public. We want to hear what parents think is needed in the way of childcare provision. And we want to hear also the views of stakeholder organisations.
“The cost of childcare has increased dramatically over the past few years and is seen as a stumbling block for many mothers and fathers returning to the work market as after paying for childcare it may not be economically viable to remain in work.
“However many families do not realise that there is help with childcare that is not being utilised to the full extent as recent figures show.
“The number of people claiming the benefit under working tax credits is very low and only 2% of people are claiming Child Care Vouchers across the North. It is therefore obvious that many families are missing out on available money to help with the provision of childcare.
"We must meet the requirements of parents. It is essential that people who want to work, or to train, or go back into education, are not prevented from doing so.
“Many families with children need to return to work so it is essential if we are to encourage mothers and fathers back into employment that we cater for them by having proper affordable childcare in place.”