SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has challenged the Education Minister on her failure to support childminders during the cost of living crisis.
It follows the Minister's response to Ms McLaughlin when asked what action her department is taking to support registered childminders through the current emergency.
In the response, Minister Michelle McIlveen said that registered child-minders are self-employed and do not fall within the remit of her department.
Ms McLaughlin said:
“The Education Minister's failure to take forward any measures or consider any steps to help support registered childminders through the cost of living crisis is a damning indictment of her inability to grasp the scale of the challenge facing people. The pressures faced by childminders are a cross-cutting issue and they need to be supported by a range of departments, however, Minister McIlveen is taking forward the Childcare Strategy and childminders form a significant part of that sector. Childminders cannot be ignored or dismissed and we need a comprehensive approach to support all providers to ensure that services are sustainable and that families receive the childcare they need and deserve.
“I have recently met with representatives of childminders who are crying out for support as they provide vital childcare for parents across the North. It’s particularly shocking that the Minister is now washing her hands of responsibility towards childminders when she previously extended the Covid-19 childcare Temporary Closure fund which provided support to childminders.
“As childminders struggle to cope with rising energy costs in their homes, I would expect the Minister to be able to detail at least some engagement that she has had with representatives of childminders, or any steps she is taking to listen to their concerns and work with her Ministerial colleagues to tackle those challenges. I am shocked that the Minister can dismiss the plight of childminders and her indifference to the challenges they face will have a significant impact on the sector."