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Education Minister, Peter Weir today announced an additional £11.8million funding to support childcare providers.

The Covid-19 Childcare Sustainability Support Fund will provide vital financial support for eligible registered childcare providers who are continuing to operate at this challenging time. It will also assist with ongoing unavoidable fixed costs for those providers who have temporarily suspended their services due to a lack of demand for their provision during the current restrictions.

The Minister said: “I am pleased to announce an extension of the financial support available to the childcare sector to support their sustainability during the first quarter of 2021. This phase of the Covid-19 Childcare Sustainability Support Fund will run from the 1 January to 31 March. It will provide a financial contribution towards ongoing additional costs that childcare providers are incurring while coping with significantly reduced demand for their services during current restrictions.

“This is the latest of a number of financial support schemes designed and implemented specifically for the childcare sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Up to the end of December 2020, approximately £20.5m of emergency funding has been provided to the childcare sector to help alleviate the pressures they have faced as a result of the pandemic. In addition, I recently announced an extension to the Covid-19 Temporary Closure Fund up to end of March 2021.

“This reflects the very important role that providers continue to play in ensuring the availability of childcare provision while at the same time making sure families can access safe and responsive care. I want to again extend my thanks to the childcare sector for its continued dedication to maintaining services during these challenging times.”

The Covid-19 Sustainability Support Fund is open from 10 March 2021 for applications from eligible daycare and school-aged childcare settings, childminders, crèches and playgroups. A grant payment will be made according to the type and size of the provider and eligible providers will be able to apply for funding via Early Years – the Organisation for Young Children website.