SDLP Spokesperson for Fair Childcare Déirdre Vaughan has expressed her concern at the impact of childcare costs on parents’ mental health.
She was speaking after YouGov research indicated parents are struggling to pay for childcare due to spiralling costs as a result of the cost of living emergency.
A fifth of parents on low incomes said they were skipping meals to pay for childcare.
SDLP North Down representative Ms Vaughan said:
“The startling results of this research show just how bad things are getting for parents due to the cost of living emergency. Childcare costs have been an issue for many years, but now with the price of everything from food to energy bills rising parents are less equipped to pay for it than ever before.
“Trying to cope with these costs while working, paying for childcare and caring for their children has left many parents struggling with their mental health as they battle to make ends meet. Reports that some parents are going without food just to pay for childcare shows the level of crisis many have reached with no end in sight to the current pressures.
“The SDLP has consistently advocated for pre-school childcare provision to be increased to 30 hours per week and a Childcare Strategy which delivers affordable care was included in New Decade, New Approach. The failure to deliver on these commitments has been deeply regrettable and has led us to the situation we are now facing with parents unable to pay their bills.
“I would urge the Education Minister to examine ways of supporting parents throughout this difficult period, while I understand we are facing significant pressures, we cannot allow parents to go hungry or face having to give up their careers in order to look after their children.”