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DoE Childcare Sector Support Scheme

A new £10.5m scheme to support the childcare sector will open for applications on Monday.

The Department of Education said the financial package would ensure as many providers as possible can reopen or remain open following the lockdown.

The Childcare Recovery Support scheme will be available for day care settings, playgroups and childminders.

An earlier support package set up by Stormont was scrapped following criticism for how it was implemented.

The new scheme will operate until 31 August and will be backdated to 1 July.

It emerged only 5% of the £12m available had been allocated to providers and childminders.

A number of nursery settings that closed on an initial temporary basis during the pandemic have since permanently closed.

Social distancing guidelines and limited space mean some day care settings have not been able to operate at full capacity.

‘Commitment and professionalism’

In a statement, Education Minister Peter Weir said registered childcare providers “offer safe and nurturing environments for children” and it was important “to ensure these providers are supported to open and operate within current public health advice”.

“My department has developed proposals to assist the childcare sector as they begin to re-open in line with executive economic recovery planning,” he said.

“This includes support for registered day care and school age settings, childminders and playgroups.

“I know that we can rely on your commitment and professionalism and I want to thank all providers for the work they do to support children and parents.

Mr Weir added that the “continued support” of workers in the sector at this time will be “vital” in helping “to deal with the challenges facing our society as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak”.

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