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1,000 Melted Parents and children to March for Childcare

This Saturday (20 April) almost 1,000 parents and children – alongside campaigners and charities – from all over Northern Ireland are planning to march in Belfast to demand “urgent intervention” for childcare reform from the Executive.

In a release from the parent-led campaign group, they explained that they’re witnessing “a troubling lack of tangible progress, leaving families feeling abandoned and overwhelmed.”

In key points shared by the grass-root campaigners stated:

·       Stormont has promised a childcare strategy since 1999, and the newly formed Executive declared it as their “day 1 priority” – the lack of progress has left parents extremely concerned that the Executive are, once again, all talk and no action.

·       In a survey of 270 parents attending the march – their total childcare bill equalled £3.2 million per year.                      

·       Melted Parents are extremely concerned that a lack of true parent representation i.e. families ‘lived experience’ in decision making, campaigning and the charity sector will lead to a poorly designed strategy that doesn’t work for children and families. 

·       The ripple effect of a poorly designed childcare strategy is devastating and means further poverty for families, an unfair disadvantage for children and will further stunt the labour force and economy.

Melted Parents urgent asks to the Executive:

• Parents must be a key part of designing a new childcare system and included in short- and long-term intervention discussions.

• Urgent intervention is needed while we wait for long term childcare reform. Any financial support injected into the sector must resolve to financially assist the families’ utilising childcare, redress fee increases following the National Living Wage uplift and reduce their bills. 

• Tax Free Childcare reform: We urge the Executive to call on the Treasury for an immediate removal of the cap on tax-free allowance and extension of the government contribution to families’ childcare accounts from 20% to 30%. Or alternatively, find a way to ‘top up’ the additional contribution from the block grant – this will have significantly positive impact on families who are at crisis point due to their childcare bill.

• Establish a sustainable childcare system: it is not good enough that a childcare strategy has been in the making for 25 years. The Executive must make childcare a political priority by delivering interim support measures to alleviate financial pressure on families, as well as a long-term childcare strategy, accompanied by a timeline for implementation.

Raissa Balduino and Clare Loye, core members of Melted Parents and march organisers said: “The March for Childcare marks the culmination of almost 13 months of continuous lobbying for a Childcare Strategy. Although we’ve heard nothing but supportive feedback and promises of action from party representatives and the Executive, the only noticeable change is that childcare costs have gone up by over 20% since last June, burdening families even more. This March serves as both a protest and a celebration of the power of parents and their growing political engagement.”

Casey McGivern, co-founder of Melted Parents said: “The Department must engage with parent representatives to ensure any policy is appropriately informed in order prevent misguided policy decisions that limit the positive economic impact of government funded childcare and cause further economic distress for families and local businesses who are struggling to recruit and retain talent.”

Becca Harper, co-founder of Melted Parents added: “Despite assurances from the Executive, we’re witnessing a troubling lack of tangible progress, leaving families feeling abandoned and overwhelmed.”