The Foyle MLA said,
"The cost of living has increased for every family in Northern Ireland with the price of fuel, electricity and heating all going up in recent months. For many families the cost of childcare is one of the single biggest bills they face each month yet Northern Ireland lags behind other UK regions in supporting working families.
The Employers for Childcare survey highlights the stark reality for both parents and childcare providers at present. With an average cost of £170 per week this presents a significant financial hurdle. As a party we recently surveyed over 1,000 parents and found that nearly 85% of people had their return to work impacted by childcare costs.
Of those, nearly 75% either delayed returning to work or reduced the number of hours they worked because of the cost of childcare. Nearly a quarter of parents also rated the significance of childcare taking up nearly a full wage within the household.
The Employers for Childcare survey highlights the problems faced by childcare providers that despite the costs, a third of providers feel at immediate risk of closure or are focused on survival over the next 12 months.
The DUP wants to introduce a Childcare Act to provide 30 hours of free childcare for 3-4 year olds, bringing Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK in this area. The provision of more and better childcare provision however must not be at the cost of the people, mainly women, who work in this sector. It is clear there is a need for action and we want to see this happen quickly."