Ms Powell replaces Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, who had been in the role since 2010. Ms Hodgson will now work as shadow minister for women and equalities.
Lucy Powell, who was elected in last year's byelection, is the first woman in Labour to serve as an MP for any of the Manchester constituencies.
In the last six months she has stood up for working families, tabling an Early Day Motion in June in support of the House of Commons Nursery, and calling for more ‘joined-up thinking’ to confront the ‘childcare triple whammy’ facing parents.
Ms Powell's appointment follows that of Tristram Hunt, who has replaced Stephen Twigg as the new shadow secretary of state for education.
Commenting on her new role, Ms Powell said, ‘I’m delighted to be appointed as Labour’s new shadow minister for childcare and early years.
‘Childcare is a central issue for the country and the economy as we head towards the next General Election. As a working mum myself I know the issues involved in juggling childcare and work.
‘Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. They face a childcare triple whammy of this Government’s own making with prices rising faster than inflation, places plummeting and cuts to support through tax credits.
‘Labour is tackling the childcare crisis with a guaranteed wrap-around childcare place for primary school children and an extension of the free nursery hours for three and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours. These measures are a clear signal of Labour’s intent to put better quality affordable accessible childcare at the heart of the cost of living election we face in 2015. I’ll be a tireless campaigner for childcare and children.’