North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the £12million boost for childcare announced in the final Budget. He also said that it is important that the Executive decide upon a Childcare Strategy which will ensure that there is certainty and assurance for those who work in the sector as well as those who avail of it. He was speaking after meeting with the Rasharkin Women’s Group along with Rasharkin Sinn Féin representative Leanne Peacock.
Mr McKay said
“Childcare is a vital service for many children and parents alike and there is a concern that funding for it could be squeezed after the British Government cut to the local Budget. The ministerial subcommittee on children and young people has produced a substantial scoping report into childcare provision which has revealed that there are significant challenges in provision and affordability.
“I would like to very much welcome the budget provision of £12million over the next four years for a childcare strategy. I also welcome the announcement that there will be immediate action from the £3million that has already been made available.
“It is important that childcare is not only viewed in terms of education or health but as an economic driver in itself. It is because of childcare and afterschools clubs that parents are available to remain in or go back into full time employment.
“There are 80 afterschools clubs across the north and the investment that the Executive already makes to this pays for itself economically in my opinion and should be continued. The Executive are currently considering a Childcare Strategy and it is important that this is made the responsibility of a department in which it will not be found at the back of the queue when it comes to committed long term funding.
Miss Peacock continued
“The Womens Group in Rasharkin has been to the forefront of numerous initiatives in the community here and has contributed hugely to improving the education, skills and health of people living in Rasharkin over many years.
“People truly rely on the work that is done by the group and we will work to ensure that the funding streams that contribute to this work continue.”