11 Mar 2013
The Programme for Government 2011-15 commits the Executive to “publish
and implement a Childcare Strategy with key actions to provide
integrated and affordable childcare.”
The Executive’s vision for childcare is:
“To achieve childcare provision which meets the needs of children and parents and leads to better outcomes.”
The vision is based on seeking to:
- create an environment where childcare is accessible and affordable for all parents;
- ensure a good standard and quality of childcare across Northern Ireland which contributes positively to child development; and
- improve awareness of, and accessibility to, information about childcare.
Key points from IPH response
• Giving every child the best start in life is recognised at the most effective way of achieving optimal health outcomes and improving life changes. Childcare providers have an important role to play in helping to establish good foundations in the early years, particularly for the most vulnerable children in society.
• We endorse the need for good quality, accessible and affordable childcare. Enabling parents to remain in or return to work, education or training is central to tackling poverty and unemployment in Northern Ireland. Employment is considered the best route out of poverty and this will only be possible for low-income families if childcare is accessible and affordable.
• In light of changes to the benefit system as a result of Welfare Reform, we would suggest that financial assistance towards the cost of childcare remains a priority for the lowest-income earners and that families have access to accurate and up to date information regarding their entitlements.
• Childcare settings offer a unique opportunity for educational, social, emotional and physical development of children. This is particularly important for children living in poverty or from disadvantaged areas. For this reason we support an integrated approach to childcare, where all relevant education, health and social care agencies work together to achieve the best possible outcomes in terms of child health and development.
• We endorse the need for high quality childcare for all children and that parents have access to the necessary information when choosing a childcare provider and an appropriate range of childcare providers are available to meet families’ needs.