The continuance of a child care scheme that helps young mothers and fathers to complete their studies at the North West Regional College (NWRC) and other further education colleges has ensured students who are also parents remain able to access up to £165 a week on babysitting grants.
It means substantial savings for young students who find themselves in this situation, and for Sinn Féin’s local education spokesperson, Councillor Patricia Logue, it’s a welcome move by the Department for the Economy (DE).
The scheme provides financial assistance towards childcare costs for further education students. Assistance of up £165 per week is available for students who are aged between 16 and 20 years of age.
Part-time and full-time students who are registered on FE courses ranging from Entry Level to Level 5 are eligible.
Colr. Logue said: “We welcome the decision to maintain the Care to Learn Scheme.
“This decision is particularly welcome at a time when childcare costs are higher than ever and when childcare provision is in short supply.
“The Department’s decision will therefore provide much-needed relief to parents wishing to study and upskill.”
To be eligible under Care to Learn you have to meet several criteria.
For example, you must be the main carer of your child/children, you must be at least 16 years old and under 20 years of age at the start of your course of study, and you must meet residency requirements under the Education (Student Support) Regulations (Northern Ireland).
DE advises that “the scheme is open to full-time and part-time FE students and Higher Education (HE) students, enrolled in an FE college on regulated professional and technical courses, and listed on the Register of Regulated Qualifications (RRQ).”
If you turn 20 during your study you may choose to stay on the scheme or apply for discretionary FE Support Funds.