25 new childcare places created in rural areas

TWENTY FIVE new childcare places are to be created locally through an innovative rural childminding scheme.

The scheme, run by the Northern Ireland Child Minding Association, looks set to create the places in Stoneyford, Moira, Maghaberry and neighbouring rural areas. The pilot project, which was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Rural Childcare Programme, was designed to help tackle the shortage of childcare places in many rural areas.

135 individuals across Northern Ireland have successfully completed a special training programme, designed and managed by NICMA – the Childminding Association, and are now in the process of being registered as childminders.

Among the successful programme participants were Helen Brown from Stoneyford and Linda Gregg from Aghalee. They each received a certificate to mark their completion of the programme from the Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew, at a special event at Parliament Buildings in Belfast.

NICMA’s Director, Bridget Nodder, said the charity is delighted it has been able to help some rural parents to access high quality childcare more easily.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Agriculture Minister and to her department for providing the funding which enabled this project to go ahead,” she said.

“We’re very aware of the acute difficulties which many parents in rural areas face in trying to find good quality, affordable childcare.

“In total we’re on course to create an additional 400 childcare places throughout Northern Ireland, and that will undoubtedly help make a significant impact in the areas on which this programme has focused.”

The project concentrated on 15 rural areas across Northern Ireland. It used media publicity and advertising to encourage individuals who might not otherwise have done so to consider a career in childminding.