The SDLP Opposition at Stormont has called on Education Minister and his Executive colleagues to produce and publish the long-awaited Childcare Strategy aimed at delivering more affordable childcare places, stabilising the childcare sector and supporting working parents within 100 days of taking office.
Speaking in the Assembly this afternoon, Sinéad McLaughlin acknowledged that childcare is an urgent priority for all parties and called on the Executive to commit to a detailed plan to give parents, workers and childcare providers the certainty they need.
Said the Foyle MLA: “I am glad that the first substantive issue debated by the Assembly is the provision of affordable childcare – it was a priority in election manifestos and now it must be a priority for delivery.
“The SDLP is calling on Ministers to work intensively and constructively to publish a clear strategy for delivering more affordable childcare places, stabilising the childcare sector and supporting working parents within 100 days of taking office.
“Working parents, childcare staff and providers deserve certainty that this crisis will be addressed as an urgent priority.
“Urgent interventions must also be agreed by the Executive, given the crisis facing parents and providers now. More than a year ago, the SDLP published proposals and it is long past time on the Minister of Education to implement these plans without delay.
“That must include freezing costs for parents, ensuring all parents are aware of the support that is available and making a collective approach to the British government to raise the rate of tax-free childcare and lift the cap so more parents can benefit from this scheme.
“There are families across all our communities where childcare bills are the greatest burden on household finances. For many, it simply doesn’t make financial sense to have both parents working – that hurts our economy, it forces people out of the labour market and entrenches inequality.
“We will work constructively with Ministers to get this over the line.
“This will be a flagship policy that the Executive is judged against – we all have a stake in making it a success.”Tags: