Egan: Pre-school provision falls short of what parents need

Alliance Education spokesperson Connie Egan has said today’s announcement to offer a minimum of 22.5 hours pre-school education per week while welcome, falls far short of what parents need.

Connie Egan

The MLA for North Down was speaking as the Education Minister unveiled the plans as a way to tackle on-going concerns around childcare provision, with Connie adding that while plans for standardising pre School provision – a policy Alliance stood on in the recent election – should be welcome, education provision should be on top of, not instead of childcare provision – with today’s move the “bare minimum”, leaving the growing problem largely ignored.

She said: “While for many parents today’s announcement will be beneficial and should be welcomed, for many it will be sticking plaster that goes no-where near far enough.

“It is not a surprising move from this Minister though, who rather than tackle the real issues facing provision for children aged 0-4, instead is opting for just one small solution in a very big problem.

“Alliance has consistently been clear that we need a universal, affordable childcare scheme, which is subsidised by government, something that is long overdue. As we face a growing cost of living crisis, the Minister can no longer ignore the crippling impact childcare costs will be having on many families.

“We are again urging the Minister to realise the urgency of a Childcare Strategy and to reassess what more she can do for parents that will make childcare affordable and increase sustainability for the sector."