Sinn Féin MLA Nicola Brogan has said the publication of a childcare strategy would provide much needed clarity about the future of the sector and would be key to supporting the sector in the future.
The party’s spokesperson on children and young people said:
“The childcare sector provided vital support to many of our key workers, including those providing health and social care throughout the pandemic.
“Safety requirements to help stop the spread of the virus during lockdown posed serious challenges to childcare settings.
“Any strategy should learn from that experience and ensure appropriate safeguards and supports are built into future planning.
“Children have been amongst some of the hardest hit in terms of emotional wellbeing and mental health during the pandemic.
“Disproportionate economic hardship as a result of the pandemic amongst our poorest and most vulnerable has inevitably impacted on children living within those households.
“Targeted early support can challenge disadvantage and begin to close the attainment gap between our most and least advantaged children.
“As well as publishing a childcare strategy, the education department must be clear about the allocation of funding required to deliver that strategy.”