The South Belfast MLA said the childcare system in Northern Ireland was broken and it needed to be repaired as soon as possible.
“For many families with young children, monthly childcare costs are higher than the rent or mortgage payment. We need to get a handle on that and fast,” she said.
“The gender aspect of our broken childcare system is also impossible to ignore. As the typically lower earners in parental partnerships, mothers are being disproportionately affected by soaring childcare bills, and the midst of a cost-of-living crisis this is unforgivable.
“Childcare investment is woefully inadequate. It is critical the Assembly is restored to deliver an affordable, accessible and flexible childcare system to support families and childcare providers across Northern Ireland.
“We also need to see efforts redoubled to deliver an ambitious, fully costed Early Learning and Childcare Strategy. This is long overdue and must be delivered as a matter of urgency. Families and childcare providers are facing immense pressures right now and support to assist the sector is critical at this time.
“The serious, long-term cost of inaction on childcare will be more women forced out of the workforce and a heightened gender pay gap, as well as having a damaging impact on our national economic productivity, and crucially losing skilled and experienced staff, who are on low incomes, to better paid jobs in supermarkets and retail.
“Promises to deliver for our childcare system must be translated into action. We need to get a grasp of the issue and mitigate the impact it is having on families and the economy, and we need to it now.
“I urge my political colleagues in the DUP to end their deadlock and help us deliver for families across Northern Ireland.”