EAST Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden has appealed for clarity over childcare rules as Northern Ireland begins a tentative recovery from COVID-19.
Childcare would be an essential element of an economic restart, Ms Sugden said. With schools remaining closed, working parents needed to know their children could be cared for in order to return to work.
She wrote to the Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds, asking whether childminders and other childcare providers, who had previously been instructed to reduce their capacity, could begin caring for more children. She also wrote to Peter Weir – the minister responsible for childcare under school age.
“As more businesses begin to re-open, childcare requirements will naturally increase too,” said Ms Sugden.
“Limited childminding places impact families, working parents, self-employed childminders and the economy.
“While I appreciate the need to ensure public health, greater clarity and guidance is needed to ensure we can recover in all areas as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Childminders in Ms Sugden’s constituency had appealed to her for guidance, including one who had been told to reduce her capacity from eight children at various times throughout the week to only two children part of the week.
Non-profit organisation Early Years expressed concern that the Executive’s Five Step Plan, released in May, did not mention childcare.
It said that childcare should not be a barrier to the wider economic recovery.