The Upper Bann representative has been contacted by parents and early years workers expressing concern that the loss of the fund would be devastating to young people in need.
Carla Lockhart said:
“I am well aware of the hugely beneficial impact that those supported by the fund can have on the lives of young people and families. As Member of Parliament, I engage regularly with settings supported by the fund, and I can see how this funding has helped improve the development of children and help them reach their full educational potential as well as providing an enhanced, more sustainable Early Years sector.
I find it unacceptable that, despite the well documented budgetary challenges facing Northern Ireland, we continue to see the Department cut services which are directed towards some of the most vulnerable, and in need, cohorts of young people. It is for them to explain why these decisions are being taken, whilst their remains funding for other projects which in my view are much less meritorious in impacting lives.
These decisions are quite deliberate, politically motivated, and to use some of those most in need as pawns in such a strategy is indefensible.
Even if Stormont was restored, the envelope of funding available would be wholly insufficient to sustain key services and cuts would have to be made. Those peddling the myth that none of these cuts would be made by a local Executive are offering false hope.
The removal of the Pathway Fund is a matter I have raised with the Permanent Secretary, asking for his rationale for the decision and specifically to detail how the Department seeks to fulfil their stated vision of “A system that is recognised internationally for the quality of its teaching and learning, for the achievements of its young people and for a holistic approach to education”. I await his response with interest.”