Hope rises as new nursery places getfunding

THERE is fresh hope for local parents who have been struggling to find pre-school places for their children.

Many parents were left distressed when they were told a place could not be found for their child near their home, with many having to consider travelling considerable distances to find a pre-school with vacancies.

However, this week Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has confirmed that additional places are being funded at Little Rays Day Nursery in Moira and at First Steps in Lisburn.

The Department of Education and the South Eastern Education and Library Board have said they are in discussion with another pre-school provider in the Lisburn area about providing an additional session as well.

According to Mr Donaldson, the Department and the Board are “reasonably confident” that at the end of this process every child in Lisburn will have a pre-school place near where they live.

Mr Donaldson welcomed the move and added: “This is much needed and I hope that in addition to these places the Department and Board will decide a more strategic approach to pre-school provision in Lisburn and we will avoid this debacle next time around with uncertainty for parents and children.

“Lisburn is one of the fastest growing populations in Northern Ireland and it is time government departments got in step with that growth and provided the facilities needed by our young population,” he concluded.

MLA Jonathan Craig said he, along with his party colleagues, continued to raise their concerns with the Minister for Education.

“I have taken the opportunity to speak to the Minister about these issues and have received assurances that there will be a fundamental look at demand and provision once the pre-school re-allocations are dealt with this year,” said Mr Craig.