Since 2014, Bright Start funding has supported the growth and development of the School Age Childcare (SAC) sector across Northern Ireland. During this time, the sector has delivered essential play-based after school services, supporting the development of children and young people whilst providing an essential service for working parents and carers.
As NI Departments continue to deal with well-publicised budgetary challenges, settings in receipt of Bright Start funding have been offered an interim three month funding award, placing 49 SAC settings at risk of closure from the end of June.
Since its establishment, Bright Start has been a key driver in the development of SAC services, supporting the setting up of new settings to meet identified need whilst also supporting those already engaged in key service delivery. Should Bright Start funding cease at the end of June, the impact will be significant with:
- 49 School Age Childcare settings at risk of immediate closure
- Staff within settings at immediate risk of losing their jobs
- The removal of access to play-based after school provision from children and young people attending the 49 settings
- Parents and carers being unable to access essential after schools support, potentially impacting on their ability to remain in employment.
Alongside others across the wider childcare sector, Bright Start funded settings were at the forefront of key service delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic; for the sector to be placed at immediate risk of closure due to political uncertainty and the current financial crisis is wholly unacceptable.
How you can help
Since announcement of the interim funding award, PlayBoard has been actively lobbying on behalf of Bright Start recipients, meeting with political representatives from all of the main parties. Over the coming period, we will continue in our best efforts to highlight the critical importance of Bright Start funding and we would ask for your support in these endeavours.
We are seeking support, not only from Bright Start funded groups and the parents/carers who will be directly affected by the withdrawal of funding, but from all those who believe in the well-being of children and young people across Northern Ireland.
We are asking you to contact local political representatives to let them know about your concerns and your support for the continuation of Bright Start funding. To support you, template text for use in letters/emails have been developed and can be downloaded below:
You can access a copy of PlayBoard’s Play Manifesto below which makes a direct call for continued funding support for play-based School Age Childcare provision. You can also include a copy of the Play Manifesto alongside a letter/email to your political representative.
NI Assembly – contacting your local MLA