East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden says she will be writing to the Minister to find out the ‘rationale’ behind this decision to reduce the Early Years Fund from £2.9 million to £900,000,
Sugden says the decision will leavE families at risk and 179 jobs on the line.
“Early Years is the largest organisation in Northern Ireland working with and for young children.
“They fund vital arm’s length projects, including several in my constituency. To add insult to injury, funded projects received no warning of this cut, it was not in the draft budget, and no organisations were consulted.
“There is deep shock and concern at the impact that this is going to have on the most ‘at risk’ families who depend on vital services provided through this fund, and which plug the gaps in the health and education sectors. We cannot exist without them. In East Londonderry, projects are wondering how they can continue to provide much needed information and support for families.
“This decision shows the lack of a long term strategy within the Executive, and little understanding of the vital services provided in communities through projects funded by Early Years. Again, the community voluntary sector is bearing the brunt of a budget that I voted against, and which has cut a clinical line across all departments.
“I will be raising this in the Assembly this week, and seeking a response from the Minister as to the rationale behind this decision.“