£25m Funding Allocated For Early Learning And Childcare

A funding package of £25 million has been announced by Education Minister Paul Givan to support children, parents and providers with early learning and childcare in 2024/25.

The package of measures is designed to stabilise and support expansion of the early learning and childcare sector, offer all children 22.5 hours pre-school education per week and reduce childcare bills for working parents through a Northern Ireland Childcare Subsidy Scheme.
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Speaking after Executive approval of the support measures, the Minister said: "This is an ambitious package of measures for early learning and childcare representing the most significant enhancement of early years investment in Northern Ireland in decades. This investment clearly demonstrates that, despite an extremely challenging budget position, the Executive remains committed to making support for young children, their families and the services they rely on, a top priority."

The new measures will also build the evidence base necessary to inform the longer-term Early Learning and Childcare Strategy.

The Minister continued: "I very much welcome the Executive's commitment to the delivery of 22.5 hours funded pre-school education for all children in their pre-school year. This is an unprecedented expansion of early years developmental provision in over 25 years and will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the lives of children in Northern Ireland for decades to come.

"It is a necessarily ambitious programme which will ease current pressures on parents and providers and lay the foundation upon which I intend to build. This is by no means the limit of my ambitions, but rather an important first step towards a full Early Learning and Childcare Strategy."

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