Deputy Mayor shares challenges of being a ‘main carer’

Councillor Cheryl Johnston.
Councillor Cheryl Johnston.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has given its support to a charter calling for universal, child-centred childcare.

The Childcare For All campaign - Created by a network of organisations - sets out a vision of a childcare system that is affordable, accessible, flexible, high quality, and which supports children’s education and development.

Those behind the initiative also want to see the value of childcare work recognised with improved pay and terms and conditions.

A motion, brought by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Cheryl Johnston, to the July meeting of the local authority, read: “That this council supports the Childcare For All Charter, which aims to have universal, child-centred childcare that meets the needs of children, families, childcare workers and providers and benefits society.

“We want to see a childcare system that is affordable, accessible, flexible, high quality and which supports children’s education and development.”

The adoption of the motion, seconded by Councillor William McCaughey, was agreed by elected members.

Councillor Johnston, who has a six-year-old daughter, Brooke, said: “This issue can affect all parents and carers in our borough.

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is reflective of these experiences with our very own chief executive, who is also a mother and has successfully broken through the barriers mentioned, successfully with a lot of grit and determination.

“ I too, fully understand the barriers, limitations, additional pressure and cost as a main carer and the constrictions this can place on career development.

“Also, the very much real choice between working or not due to the cost of childcare. This motion is aimed at supporting the Childcare Charter, building momentum of their campaign and as councillors and staff highlighting our experiences and those of our constituents in regards to childcare.”

The launch of the charter took place in May at Stormont and Employers For Childcare, along with the WRDA (Women’s Research and Development Agency) and the other members of the network, supported the event.