2024 must be the year we deliver a bespoke childcare scheme for Northern Ireland, says Nicholl

Alliance Early Years and Childcare spokesperson Kate Nicholl MLA has argued that, for the sake of our children, parents, and society as a whole, we need to finally start delivering on childcare reform in 2024.

Kate Nicholl Childcare Early Years

The South Belfast MLA has said: “As the DUP’s boycott of the Assembly and Executive continues into another calendar year, parents are still facing increasingly unaffordable costs for childcare in Northern Ireland. Many will be looking to the year ahead not with optimism or excitement, but with dread about the difficult decisions they may have to make, wondering if they can afford to continue working or considering reducing their hours, all while facing a cost of living crisis.


“We need to see urgent action, but we must also build a system that genuinely delivers for our families and children. We cannot simply replicate sound-bite policy that has failed in England with the vain hope that it will somehow work in Northern Ireland. We must take the opportunity to build something bespoke for Northern Ireland, learning from the experiences of reform across these islands and implementing the very best system to maximise the developmental opportunities for our children and benefits for our economy.


“That is why we published Children First, Alliance’s proposals for an affordable childcare scheme, in October 2023. Our proposals would deliver a practical and child-centred solution to the current crisis, with reduced costs for parents, but also support for providers and staff to ensure that the scheme can be delivered and that parents and families will see real and tangible benefits. We are confident this document can act as a blueprint for an incoming Executive, which if restored and reformed, can begin to deliver quality childcare for all children.


“The continued lack of political action on childcare is causing widespread disillusionment amongst parents and we urgently need to see a fully functioning Assembly and Executive delivering on a range of crucial issues, including reforming our childcare system. There can be no more delay and no more excuses. It is time for the DUP to get back to work and get on with the job at hand.”



Alliance’s full childcare plan available to view here.