AQO 2863/17-22 – Additional COVID-19 funding for childcare sector

Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Education to outline the additional funding that will be provided to the childcare sector due to COVID-19 pressures.

Minister of Education: From 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2021, my Department paid approximately £37m Covid-19 funding to the childcare sector via two separate funding schemes – the Childcare Sustainability Fund and the Covid-19 Childcare Temporary Closure Fund.

This funding was allocated to assist childcare providers with sustainability pressures and temporary closures due to Covid-19 related incidents within their provision.

The Covid-19 Childcare Temporary Closure Support Fund remains open and further payments will be made for the period 1 October to 31 December 2021. The latest Sustainability Childcare Support Fund ended on 30 June 2021, reflecting the gradual easing over the summer of most of the restrictions which had been imposing additional costs on childcare settings.

However, I have committed to keeping the need for further financial support under review, taking into consideration the evolving public health situation and its impact on the childcare sector.

A further £910,000 has been made available in 2021/22 through the Early Years Pathway Fund which supports children aged 0-4 at risk of educational underachievement. This funding is supporting the development of 1,900 children facing disadvantage and who are likely to be impacted most by Covid-19. The funding is also helping 43 early years’ settings to remain sustainable during the pandemic.