Melted Parents NI is a parent-led campaigning group committed to representing the lived experience of families struggling with the cost of childcare here in Northern Ireland.
“The costs of childcare in Northern Ireland are astronomical and unacceptable, and parents and families are really struggling to cope in these conditions,” said Ms Nicholl.
“A survey conducted by Melted Parents showed that that over 82% of parents surveyed said that the cost of childcare has been a key factor in their decision to not have more children. Parents and carers are being forced to make impossible choices between their career and caring for their children. It’s simply not good enough and represents a failure of our politics to deliver for people here in Northern Ireland.
“This is a crisis of now, with costs for childcare on par with or even exceeding mortgage costs for many families.
“This is also having a broader effect on the mental health of parents and carers, putting a strain on family relationships and damaging our economy as parents and carers must step out of the workplace to care for their children.
“Myself and my colleagues in the Alliance Party have been working hard on this issue for over a year, meeting with parents, academics, businesses, childcare providers and more to develop policy proposals that will deliver a better system for our families.
“Delivering childcare reform was one of the key reasons I ran for election to the Assembly in 2022. It’s simply unforgivable that we haven’t been able to make progress on this issue due to the lack of functioning political institutions. Delivering an affordable, universal childcare policy must be a day one priority for a future Assembly and Executive.”