The SDLP has called for an emergency intervention to save childcare places across Northern Ireland and ease pressures on working families.
SDLP Newry & Armagh MLA Justin McNulty has said that action is needed to prevent the loss of childcare places which would have a significant impact on working families.
He was speaking as the party published a five-point plan to save childcare places.
Justin McNulty MLA said:
“Childcare costs far too much for parents and the cost-of-living crisis has made the pressure on working families unbearable. As many businesses providing this vital service struggle to stay open, parents are faced with eye-watering costs. I regularly hear from families whose childcare costs are even higher than their monthly mortgage payments, forcing some parents and most often women, out of work entirely.
“It can’t go on like this. We need an ambitious Childcare Strategy and early years infrastructure that meets the needs of working parents. The more time we waste on inaction, the further we fall behind other jurisdictions that are prioritising this investment in children, working parents and our economy.
“While other parties expect parents to foot the bill, the SDLP is proposing investment of £20.4m into early years infrastructure, freezing costs for parents and keeping the businesses that provide these services sustainable in the short-term. We’d also expand access to financial support, make more parents aware of the financial support available and bring government departments together to tackle this challenge.
“We rightly talk about access to our health service and our physical infrastructure. Yet our early years settings are also critical forms of our social infrastructure. We cannot risk the sector collapsing before our eyes. We need to act now, there is no more time to waste.”