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'I don't mind these prices for a baby or toddler, but when it's still hundreds for a school-age child, that's just terrible'

Published 09/11/2015

Sales and marketing executive Solene Nugent (34) lives in Newtownabbey with her 37-year-old husband Brendan, a businessman, and their two children, schoolboy Owen (10) and three-year-old Louis, who goes to nursery and creche. They spend £1,000 a month on childcare.

She says: "Owen goes to breakfast club at his school from 8am and then the creche picks him up in the afternoon after school. Louis is dropped off at the creche at 8am, then the creche takes him to school for 9am and then picks him up at 12pm. He stays there until 6pm, when I pick him up.

"Childcare is very expensive in Northern Ireland compared to France, where I'm from originally. When we lived in Brittany, I could have dropped Owen off at school anytime from 7am and picked him up before 7pm for 50 euros a month.

"I don't mind paying childcare costs for a baby or a toddler - that's probably the same rate throughout Europe - but I think it's terrible that people here still have to pay hundreds of pounds once their children reach school age whenever they don't need the same level of care as a newborn.

"I think schools here should provide breakfast and after-school clubs at a lower cost - and that's the main point I want to make.

"I would also like the service to be more accessible. Nurseries often stay open until 6.30pm but, quite often, schools close at 5pm sharp, with no flexibility, and that's very difficult when both the parents are working full time.

"There's also the fact that some schools don't provide breakfast or after-school clubs, which I discovered when I was trying to find a place for Owen.

"It meant I then had to find a creche that agreed to go and collect him. It was a struggle."

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