All children entitled to 22.5 hours of pre-school education per week under £25 million Executive package

Childcare campaigners say “an important first step” has been taken after a £25 million package of measures was announced by education minister Paul Givan.

All children will be entitled to 22.5 hours of pre-school education per week as part of the measures aimed at reducing childcare bills for working parents through a new Northern Ireland Childcare Subsidy Scheme.

The DUP minister said it represented the “most significant enhancement of early years investment in Northern Ireland in decades”.

Other supports include an emergency support fund for struggling childcare providers, further investment in Sure Start and Department of Education schemes such as Pathway and Toybox, as well as work to progress the standardisation of pre-school education.

Mr Givan said: “This investment clearly demonstrates that, despite an extremely challenging budget position, the Executive remains committed to making support for young children, their families and the services they rely on, a top priority”.

all children entitled to 22.5 hours of pre-school education per week under £25 million executive package

Education minister Paul Givan

Marie Marin from Employers For Childcare said it was a “first step from the Executive in making good on their promise to address childcare as a key priority”.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Campaign group, Melted Parents NI, said while they were “celebrating this big win” the measures “won’t solve everyone’s problems”.

“This is an interim measure and most importantly, a start,” they said.

“After a lot of talk from politicians, this is a clear sign that the voices of parents are helping to solve the childcare crisis in Northern Ireland, and Melted Parents won’t stop until every family in NI has the support they need and deserve.”

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