The Development of Early Years Services in Ireland

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1 The Development of Early Years Services in Ireland Jim Breslin Secretary General Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Ireland Models of Early Childhood Services Conference Montreal 6 June 2012

2 Overview of Presentation 1. Key phases in development to date 2. Current National Programmes 3. Some key factors influencing development 4. Piloting & Evaluation of other Models of Intervention 5. Next steps: Preparation of National Early Year s Strategy

3 1. Key phases in development

4 Phase I Pre Mobilisation ( 1996) Ireland a relatively late starter in early childhood care and education Demand constrained with: low female labour market participation (1981: 30%; 1996:<45% compared to OECD average of 60% in 1995) high unemployment (12% total unemployment in 1996) Supply: poor service availability Advocacy for improved childcare based mostly on equality and labour force participation considerations coming from women s groups, trade unions, etc Some child poverty, educational disadvantage and children at risk rationale leading to isolated projects in poorer communities run by voluntary sector Overall weak appreciation of benefits to children of early childhood care and education

5 Phase II Mobilisation ( ) Major growth in economy total unemployment down to 4% Strong economic impetus to expansion with support from unions, employers & childcare sector Regulation & inspection in place (1997) Significant capital investment ( 425m up to ) creating an extra 65,000 places. Up to 2006 investment was supported by EU Structural Funds. Most childcare continues to be funded on a day to day basis by parents. But Early Childcare Supplement of 1,000 p.a. paid to parents of children < 5 yrs at cost of over 400m p.a. (Not linked to use of formal childcare) Staffing grants introduced for community services based upon local deprivation.

6 Phase III Reform Underway (2006 ) Reform but in context of growing affordability issues for state and families: 14% total unemployment Increase in 2007 in paid maternity leave to 6 months Funding of community services changed from block subsidy to capitation payment for places utilised by low income parents 1,000 annual Supplement replaced in 2010 by a universal, free pre school year with capitation paid to (private & community) providers (overall saving of 230m but better targeted at a sector otherwise seeing reduced uptake by parents). Childcare Education and Training Support introduced in 2010 to support training and labour activation of unemployed parents. Move towards more child centred approaches and quality improvement through curriculum development (Aistear Framework launched in 2011) and quality improvement (Siolta quality framework piloted and evaluated) Prevention and Early Intervention Programme introduced in 2007 in 3 disadvantaged areas to implement and evaluate higher intensity, best practice early years interventions

7 2. Today s National Programmes

8 Today s National Programmes Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme Universal, free pre school year introduced in to 4 year age group 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, 38 weeks per year (Sept to June) 94% of eligible children participating (or 65,000 children p.a.) 4,500 participating pre school services, both commercial and community owned Accredited qualification requirements for pre school leader, plus higher payments where pre school assistants possess qualifications 175m spend per annum Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Introduced in 2010 Subsidy of up to 95 per week to low income parents 42m spend per annum supporting 20,000 (full time equivalent)places Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) Introduced in ,600 full time places, subject to a maximum charge of 25 per week 22m spend per annum

9 3. Some key factors influencing development

10 Reform & Evolution is Context Specific The early childhood care and education sector in Ireland is as interesting as it is bewildering in its evolution, structure, diversity, quality inequality, key players and controlling interests. Murray (2006), The Conceptualisation of Diversity and Equality in Early Childhood Care, Education and Training, MSc Thesis UCD.

11 Economic & Labour Market Drivers

12 Organisational Drivers National Policy Leadership: Previously responsibility split across Department of Justice & Equality/Department of Education and Department of Health & Children Office of the Minister for Children created in 2006 integrating Equality and Health childcare functions and co locating education Department of Children and Youth Affairs established in June 2012 as a full Government Ministry for children s policies and services Local Catalysts City & County Childcare Committees established in 2001 to encourage development of childcare locally. Have also input practical knowledge to policy makers. External Influences Very positive role played by EU (in funding and promotion of equality) and OECD expertise & support

13 4. Piloting & Evaluation of other Models of Intervention Prevention & Early Intervention Programme Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

14 Prevention & Early Intervention Programme Joint initiative between State and Atlantic Philanthropies, commenced in 2007 Co funding of 36m Based in 3 of the most deprived communities in Dublin Condition of funding is to rigorously evaluate effectiveness of interventions & to share learning so that policy makers and others can benefit Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

15 Prevention & Early Intervention Consistent elements across 3 sites are: Early years: Invest in children aged 0 6 years and work with parents, family networks & community organisations to improve outcomes Integrated planning: use best evidence available to assess need, consult stakeholders, identify outcomes, develop logic models and design services Use of what works : based upon Irish and international evidence Focus on implementation: bridging theory and practice Rigorous evaluation: sophisticated research built into service design Programme (PEIP) Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

16 PEIP Some Examples Preparing for Life: Home visiting for prenatal parents and through 0 5 years Quality improvement support for early year s childcare providers Parenting programme (Triple P) Childhood Development Initiative: 2 year pre school with outreach to parents & speech and language Healthy schools In school and after school literacy Community safety Youngballymun Home visitation (antenatal, psychological & infant mental health support) Quality improvement support for early year s childcare providers Classroom management (Incredible years) Parenting (Incredible Years) Whole school and community wide literacy Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

17 PEIP Current Status Final evaluations due Other initiatives implemented elsewhere (e.g. Longford/Westmeath Parenting Programme) Dissemination strategy for learning being implemented Sustaining proven interventions through local mainstreaming commencing Dialogue nationally on implications for national programmes and area based interventions Important evidence base for National Early Year s Strategy Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

18 5. Next steps: Preparation of National Early Year s Strategy Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

19 Programme for Government Commitments We will maintain the free pre school year in Early Childhood Care and Education to promote the best outcomes for children and families. We will improve the quality of the pre school year by implementing standards and reviewing training options. As resources allow, this Government will invest in a targeted early childhood education programme for disadvantaged children, building on existing targeted pre school supports for families most in need of assistance A new approach is needed to break the cycle of child poverty where it is most deeply entrenched. We will adopt a new area based approach to child poverty, which draws on best international practice and existing services to tackle every aspect of child poverty. Initially, this model will be rolled out to up to ten of Ireland s most disadvantaged communities, in cooperation with philanthropic partners. Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

20 National Early Year s Strategy Ireland s first Early Years Strategy being developed during Age range: pre natal to 6 years Draw on evidence e.g. from Growing up in Ireland longitudinal study, PEIP, etc Strategy to meet Programme for Government commitments Early childhood care and education Rollout quality initiatives Workforce development Build upon current universal programme Support labour activation policies Address balance between parental choice & quality/regulation (e.g. childminding) Other Key priorities: Focus on delivery of quality universal services Health, including mental and physical development, vaccination and population health issues such as nutrition and exercise Parenting and family support Learning and Development, including Literacy and Numeracy Play and recreation. Models of EC Services, Montreal, Quebec, June 5-6,

21 Conclusions Ireland was a late starter A lot of work underway over the last decade to learn from others and adapt to Irish setting Currently developing Strategy for next 5 years Any help or advice would be appreciated!

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