Urgent action is needed on childcare costs as parents and caregivers face “crippling” bills, an Alliance MLA has said.
Eóin Tennyson, who represents Upper Bann, has called for immediate action to ensure that affordable, flexible childcare is accessible for all.
Recent figures from Employers for Childcare show that more than 40 per cent of the workforce in Northern Ireland are parents with dependent children and that, on average, full-time childcare costs amount to between £8,500-£15,000 per annum, with a third of families saying childcare costs more than their mortgage or rent.
Eóin said: “The cost of childcare is crippling, and it’s one of the issues that is raised with me time and time again.
“People are worried about the costs. Parents and carers – primarily women – are reducing their hours or are being forced out of the labour market altogether, all of which will have a prolonged negative impact on the social, emotional and educational development of our children.
“We urgently need a robust childcare strategy which would ensure people receive what they deserve – affordable, flexible, high-quality childcare which pays practitioners good wages and gives every child the best start in life.
“We need to stop seeing this issue as an individual family problem, but as key economic infrastructure which when properly invested in creates better educational, health, social and economic outcomes.”
He added: “Childcare should not cost more than your mortgage, and it should never be a reason why people don’t return to work, or why parents choose not to have another longed-for child.”