BY LOUISE CONVERY
MID ULSTER assembly member Sandra Overend has said that action is needed to provide affordable childcare for all in the community.
The Ulster Unionist MLA was commenting after she attended the launch of the Employers for Childcare report, ‘Childcare for All?’. Mrs Overend welcomed the work that went into the report and urged the First and deputy First Ministers to push forward not only with an adequate Childcare Strategy, but one which will take into account of the problems experienced by parents of children with disabilities and/or special needs.
Sandra said: “I very much welcome the production of this report by Employers for Childcare and I believe that the issues they raise are important and must be addressed by the First Ministers in a Childcare Strategy.
“Parents with children suffering a disability and/or special needs find it extremely difficult to access appropriate childcare and more often lean on extended family to help, particularly grandparents. Specific training measures should be introduced for childcare providers to enable the uptake of childcare to increase.
I am not surprised that parents with children who are disabled and/or have special needs often feel isolated and in particular need of help and support.”
She added: “The Junior Ministers attended the launch and while they assured those attending that they are working on the childcare strategy, it is hugely important that they deliver and ensure that a strategy is forthcoming sooner, rather than later. Parents have been waiting for this help from government for so long that their children will have grown up before something is implemented.”
She pointed out recent evidence that the cost of childcare results in many on a low income being forced out of work, and is a further indicator that the need for a Childcare Strategy is immense. “It is important that government provides a cross-cutting strategy, looking as all aspects that need to be taken into consideration in relation to childcare including, to name a few: cost involved, financial assistance, number and spread of childcare providers, training, and support,” Mrs Overend concluded.