The Minister for Education made a Written Ministerial Statement on 7 September 2022 regarding the intention to standardise the Pre-school Education Programme to full-time (22.5 hours) for all children aged 3-4 and to set out the direction of travel for a new Early Learning and Childcare Strategy.

Update on Executive Childcare Strategy

The Minister announced:

  • The establishment of a new Stakeholder Engagement Forum
  • An independent 'Review of Childcare Services in Northern Ireland'
  • A review on early years targeted interventions
  • A scoping study on the state of readiness of the pre-school sector to deliver the proposed standardisation.

The full statement is available to view here:

Written Ministerial Statement - Update on Executive Childcare Strategy | Department of Education (

School Age Childcare Grant Scheme

The Bright Start School Age Childcare Grant Scheme was launched on the 27 March 2014 and aims to create or sustain school age childcare provision - breakfast clubs, after school clubs and summer schemes aimed at the 4-14 age group. There have been three calls for applications to the Grant Scheme, which has sustained and created approximately 2,500 school age childcare places in areas of disadvantage, on the schools estate and in rural areas.

The Department of Health is the Managing Agent for the Grant Scheme.

You can access the interim evaluation via the link below:

Bright Start School Age Childcare (SAC) Grant Scheme - Interim Evaluation

Related publications

Published Research

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For further information please contact the Childcare Strategy Team

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