The NI Executive’s Programme for Affordable and Integrated Childcare – Bright Start
In September 2013 the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister launched ‘Bright Start’ – The Executive’s Programme for Affordable and Integrated Childcare and its Strategic Framework aimed at helping deliver the Executive’s vision for childcare for Northern Ireland.
Consultation and research undertaken to inform the Bright Start Childcare Strategy highlighted School Age Childcare (SAC) as the biggest area of unmet need in Northern Ireland. In order to address this, three of Bright Start’s 15 Key First Actions focus on increasing or sustaining School Age Childcare provision:
- Key first action 1 aims to sustain or create 3,000 SAC places addressing the childcare needs of disadvantaged communities.
- Key first action 2 aims to create 2-3,000 new SAC places in new facilities based on the schools estate.
- Key first action 5 aims to create up to 1,000 new SAC places addressing the childcare needs of rural communities.
On March 27th 2014 the Executive subsequently launched its Bright Start School Age Childcare Grant Scheme. Commenting at the launch, held at Carryduff Playcare Centre, Jacqueline O’Loughlin, CEO of PlayBoard, said:
“We are delighted with the recognition being afforded to the School Age Childcare sector under ‘Bright Start’. It is well evidenced that this distinct, age-appropriate/play based aspect of childcare contributes significantly to delivering tangible outcomes to both individual children and their families. Availability of quality School Age Childcare promotes access to employment and training for women. Further, it contributes to economic regeneration of areas and supports social deprivation and inclusion at all levels.”
The Bright Start Grant Scheme is being rolled out on a phased basis. Rounds 1 is currently underway, Round 2 has already been allocated and is about to get underway, and promotional events for Round 3 are soon to begin. The events are taking place throughout the region to inform prospective interested parties on how to access Round 3 Funding.
Round 3 is primarily being targeted at Schools and New Provision or New Start-ups, although existing providers can apply if they are applying for new provision (i.e. to provide new places).
To find out when a promotional event will be in your area and how to book a place click here
More information on Bright Start or the Bright Start School Age Childcare Grant Scheme can be found at: http://www.hscboard.hscni.net/brightstart/
Alternatively if you would like to discuss any aspect of Bright Start please contact a member of the School Age Childcare Team at PlayBoard on 90803380.