Naomi Long MP said: “I raised the issue of nursery provision in East Belfast which has caused problems for many parents over recent years and on which we have done considerable work. We welcome the additional resources which the Minister found to increase the number of places last year; however, we realise that in the current climate, such funds may be harder to secure going forward. I also brought proposals to the Minister in terms of changes to the nursery admissions process which would prioritise those children in the final pre-school year, ensuring that each child has the best possible opportunity to access a suitable nursery place. The proposals are relatively small administrative changes which have minimal if any cost attached, but which could have a significant impact on access to one year of nursery for every child. We are delighted that the Minister has agreed to ask the Department to look at those proposals.”
Castlereagh East Alliance Councillor Judith Cochrane said: “This is an issue of real concern for many households in East Belfast and every effort must be made to ensure that every child can find a place in their area. It can cause parents much stress when their children are placed on a waiting list or when the only available places are nowhere near where the family live.
“As a mother of young children, I understand how important it is for a child to receive a pre-school year at nursery. Each child deserves the best start in life and going to nursery is a big part of that.
“We have been working hard to address this issue in East Belfast and have helped a number of parents negotiate their way through the system to gain nursery places for their children. I am pleased that the Education Minister is going to examine our proposal of reform of the nursery admissions process.”