AQW 2360/17-22

Ms Paula Bradshaw
Alliance Party
South Belfast

Tabled Date: 19/02/2020
Answered On Date: 28/02/2020
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of Education what proposals his Department has to bring forward a childcare strategy during the 2020/21 financial year.

I plan to bring an updated Childcare Strategy to my Executive colleagues for consideration in due course. The Strategy will take account of the responses to the consultation undertaken in 2015, the policy priorities set by the Executive and the extended early education and care services available in other jurisdictions.
There are significant policy and resourcing issues to be decided in order to finalise the Strategy, including delivering an extended, affordable, responsive and high quality early education and care offer for families with children aged 3 to 4.
Publication of the Strategy, including any proposed legislation, requires the Executive’s consideration of the budget and resources available to deliver all the actions. Progressing to publication, to include an extended offer, is predicated on securing the resources required.
As childcare is cross-cutting, actions aimed at promoting parental employment and improving child development requires collaboration across a number of departments and their agencies. My officials have worked closely with colleagues in relevant departments to revise the Strategy and associated actions, including through the cross-departmental Childcare Strategy Programme Board. Following the Executive’s consideration, implementation of the agreed strategic actions will be monitored by the Programme Board.