Dallat-O’Driscoll hails Bookstart Baby plan

SDLP Councillor Helena Dallat O’Driscoll has said a programme providing families with books will open up the world of reading for every newborn baby.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Parenting Champion was speaking after it was confirmed the Bookstart Baby programme will provide book packs to families with babies born in 2021 to support their early learning and development and encourage a positive home learning environment.

Councillor Dallat-O’Driscoll has been campaigning for the programme to be extended after it was previously only available to a small number of children.

The Bann councillor said: “The extension of this scheme will allow every family to share a love of reading with their child from as early an age as possible.

“Reading to children while they’re young is proven to have huge benefits, helping them to develop their communication and social skills, while also affording parents the chance to bond with them.

“Research shows that children who are introduced to reading an at early age are also at an advantage when they start school and are more likely to achieve higher under every branch of education,” she added.

“Previously this scheme was only available to a small number of families, I have called for it to be extended on a number of occasions.

“I’m glad the Department of Education has now agreed to part fund the programme so that more families can benefit.

“Becoming a new parent is a stressful time, particularly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, so initiatives like this can play a huge part in giving new parents one less thing to worry about as they settle into their new lives,” concluded Cllr Dallat-O’Driscoll.