The first meeting has taken place of the new All Party Group on Early Education and Childcare, chaired by Alliance Party MLA Chris Lyttle. The group aims to advocate for policy and legislative development and promote best practice. The establishment of this group is particularly timely, with childcare having come to the fore as a critical issue during the Covid-19 pandemic. MLAs from across the political spectrum have joined this important group, which Employers For Childcare is pleased to provide the Secretariat for.
The meeting, which was attended by over 30 stakeholders from across the childcare and early education sectors, was addressed by Pauline Walmsley, CEO of Early Years, the organisation for young children, which is administering the £10.5 million recovery package for the childcare sector on behalf of the Department of Education.
Speaking following the meeting, Marie Marin, Chief Executive, Employers For Childcare commented: “The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how vital our childcare sector is to our economy and to society more broadly. So while the recovery package that is currently being rolled out is welcome, more is needed and there was a call today for further, ongoing support and a focus on the longer-term strategy. Childcare was identified as a priority in the New Decade, New Approach agreement earlier this year, and we need to see delivery on that commitment. We look forward to working with MLAs and stakeholders from across the sector to ensure that this new All Party Group is a vehicle for driving meaningful policy change and legislative development and can promote best practice.
The All Party Group on Early Education and Childcare will meet on a regular basis and members look forward to working constructively with the Departments of Education and Health to ensure progress on these vital issues.