Employers For Childcare welcomes further funding for childcare sector, but calls for longer-term investment
Employers For Childcare has welcomed the further extension of two Covid-19 childcare support funds, announced by Education Minister Michelle McIlveen.
This includes a further phase of the Childcare Sustainability Fund and the Childcare Covid-19 Temporary Closure Fund and will supplement the £30 million already allocated to the childcare sector, to support its re-opening, recovery and ongoing sustainability. The funding has opened for applications from eligible day care, school-aged childcare settings, childminders, crèches and playgroups.
Commenting on the announcement, Aoife Hamilton, Head of Charity Services at Employers For Childcare said: “This latest package of funding will provide vital financial support for childcare providers who continue to face challenges around reduced demand, and increased costs as a result of operating within Covid-19 guidance. However, while we welcome this focus on recovery, it is important that we recognise that the entire sector needs support in the longer-term to move to a system that is sustainable for providers to deliver and affordable and accessible for parents.
“This is why we have written this week to the new Education Minister Michelle McIlveen to insist that childcare must be top of the agenda for the Executive – it is an essential part of our economic infrastructure and has a key role to play in helping parents move into work. We are already seeing many employers struggle to recruit the staff they need and without a high quality and affordable childcare system in place, we will be unable to rebuild a prosperous, productive economy.
“We need to see progress on a comprehensive, fully-costed Childcare Strategy which delivers for families, childcare providers and the economy – as per the commitment in ‘New Decade, New Approach’. With our last full Childcare Strategy having been published two decades ago, parents simply cannot afford to wait any longer and we look forward to working with Executive Ministers to achieve the changes that parents and childcare providers tell us are so urgently needed”.