Uplift on support provided has been achieved by powerful campaign fought by Registered Childminders but more is needed to secure future of vital sector
Suzi Douglas, Chair of Unite Registered Childminders’ branch, welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the Education Minister Peter Weir that financial support granted during July and August would retrospectively increase by an additional £300 but called on Stormont to do more for struggling operators in the childcare sector.
“Over the last months Unite members have relentlessly campaigned for fairness and it has paid off! We have managed, alongside NICMA (Northern Ireland Childminding Association), to get the Department of Education to seriously consider our joint evidence-based, business case seeking enhanced financial assistance.’
“Our branch sought and made a strong case for significant additional funding on behalf of our members, whilst the full extent of our demand was not matched, yesterday a decision was made by Education Minister Peter Weir, doubling, and in some cases tripling, the financial assistance initially offered and goes some way to addressing some of the issues our members have faced with the reopening of the economy. This result was only achieved by the hard work of our UNITE Childminders Committee and the hundreds of Registered Childminders who decided to get organised. Registered Childminders deserve to be heard directly in any conversation on the future of our sector, including future funding.
“Our Registered Childminders committee are currently preparing a second joint proposal related to Covid closures seeking clear, fair assistance and clarity in the case of further local or national lockdowns”, Ms Douglas said.
Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, congratulated the Registered Childminders on their campaign which secured an offer that, in some cases, more than doubled the amount promised to the sector by the Department but called on the government to do more to secure the vital childcare sector.
“Yesterday’s announcement will come as welcome news to hard-pressed Childminders. The increase by £300 support effectively doubles that offered only weeks before and this reflects the powerful campaign that has been mounted by our branch members. Although the improvement is very welcome, it still doesn’t go far enough and many Registered Childminders remain in a worse position than they would have been prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are also demanding that future support be distributed in a more representative and fairer way than the current system.
“The collective organisation of Registered Childminders in Unite has clearly had a big impact. We look forward to continuing to work collectively with and on behalf of Registered Childminders. We call on those Registered Childminders yet to join our branch to come on board and get involved in shaping the future of this vital sector”, Ms Fitzgerald concluded.