A Fermanagh mother of two whose childcare costs are double that of her mortgage payments wants the newly restored government at Stormont will put a childcare strategy at the top of their priority list.

Jessica (not her real name) has two children under the age of three and has seen what it takes to pay for her children to go to a creche, and it is not even for a full week.

One child is in creche for three days a week while the oldest is in it for two days a week. From March the oldest will move to three days a week.

"It's £50 a day per child," she explained.

"And it is going up I was told, in March which is not what we want to hear.

"But it will probably go up another 10 per cent as that is what it seems to be.

"So it will be up to £110 a day."

So by March, for the two children, the family could be spending £1,320 on childcare costs per month.

Jessica admitted that she and her husband would like to have another child but do not see the financial sense of having one at this time.

"We would love a number three. We could do it but we have said we just think we will wait until the eldest is in school.

"Because you’ll be out another 50 per cent of that [cost] a month.

"We are probably fortunate enough that we can do it but I know there's a lot of families who it would just be simply not worth their while to go to work."

Last Saturday when MLAs took their place in the Assembly chamber as devolved government was restored, several of them spoke about the crippling cost of childcare.

This included First Minster Michelle O'Neill, Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, Alliance leader and Justice Minister Naomi Long and leader of the opposition Matthew O'Toole of the SDLP.

Melted Parents NI have embarked on a campaign to put childcare at the top of the list and Jessica praised the work they have been doing to raise awareness of the issue.

Now she wants to see action from Northern Ireland's politicians.

Jessica, who is self-employed and works three days a week, points to childcare in England and Scotland as examples of what Northern Ireland should be striving for.

In England working parents of three and four-year-olds are eligible for 30 hours of free childcare a week.

From April 2024, working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare. 

From September 2024, 15 hours of free childcare will be extended down to the age of nine months for working parents.

In Scotland, where Jessica's sister-in-law lives, she explained: "Whenever they are three in Scotland they get two and a half days childcare for free [across the whole year]. 

"That would even be great. My eldest has just turned three.

"[At the minute] he is in creche two days a week and the other wee one is in three days a week. My mother-in-law takes him one day a week

"If I had no childcare to pay for him that would be amazing," added Jessica who would like to see Northern Ireland on a par with Scotland and England.

"Our childcare is double our mortgage. It's mental," said Jessica who added that even when her eldest son goes to pre-school in September she will still have childcare to pay for.

"In September it's only two and a half hours so I still have to pay childcare.

"He's going to need the morning session and the afternoon session so it is only going to be saving £5 a day.

"It's hard to just not to go back to work because you have to think of the future as well.

"I can see why women who have a guaranteed job to go back to, why they take a career break."