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Childcare investment is key to unlocking NI’s potential

As applications for a new Childcare Recovery Support Scheme open today, FSB NI Policy Chair, Tina McKenzie, has welcomed the support but said that the time has come for a Childcare Strategy finally to be implemented.

 Childcare Recovery Support Scheme

Commenting, Tina McKenzie said: “We very much welcome the new support scheme for childcare providers, brought forward by the Education Minister, which opens for applications today. It appears that lessons have been learned from the last incarnation of support and we trust this new funding will flow rapidly to providers, allowing more to re-open while dealing with additional costs and uncertainty in this unique set of circumstances.

“Hopefully this will also prevent further permanent closures of childcare settings and enable more parents and guardians to access childcare again.

“Indeed, one of the most significant consequences of lockdown has been the impact on families with children, and this remains a concerning time for parents, guardians, and for child development more generally.

“Just as the Covid-19 crisis has forced us to recognise the absolutely vital role of health and social care, similarly it has really brought home how childcare provision is such a vital piece of infrastructure for our economy and society.

“This realisation should serve as a catalyst for change. For too long Northern Ireland has failed to recognise fully the value of childcare. A properly funded Childcare strategy is long overdue; action is required now.

“Failure to do so risks damaging social progress made in recent years. It will continue to affect women disproportionately by restricting parental choice on what role they play within the economy – whether that be through employment or starting their own business – so it undermines efforts to address economic inactivity.

“Investment in childcare is the key with which we can unlock so much of Northern Ireland’s economic potential.”