Thursday 14 May 2015
Dr. James Reilly, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs officially launched ‘Better Start, the National Early Years Quality Development Service’, an initiative that aims to promote and enhance the quality of early childhood care and education.
Speaking at today’s launch, Minister Reilly said:
The establishment of Better Start demonstrates my Department’s and this Government’s commitment to ensure excellence in early years services. Every year, in the region of €13 million is provided by my Department to City and County Childcare Committees and National Voluntary Childcare Organisations. This funding supports the valuable work of these bodies in supporting early years’ services around the country, through training, continuing professional development programmes, networking and cluster-type support groups.
The aim of Better Start is to provide a nationally coherent continuum of support to providers to help them to improve quality, incorporating the work of these City and County Childcare Committees and the National Voluntary Childcare Organisations. Importantly, Better Start also incorporates the work of a new nationally coordinated Early Years Specialist Service. This Service has recruited and trained 30 graduates in early childhood care and education to work directly with services in a mentoring capacity to improve quality, including assisting services in the implementation of the Síolta Framework and the Aistear Curriculum.
I strongly encourage all early years services to avail of these State-funded supports that are available to them so that we can continually improve the quality of early years services for children right across the country.
‘Better Start ‘was established by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in consultation with the Department of Education and Skills to promote and enhance the quality of early childhood care and education for children from birth to six years in Ireland. It is managed and fully funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and hosted by Pobal.
Better Start includes a direct ‘Early Years Specialist Support Service’, based on a mentoring model providing on-site mentoring to early years providers and supporting them to undertake quality improvement actions in their own services.
Better Start also takes on a broader role in working on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to ensure coordination and coherence in the delivery of State-funded quality support services currently provided by the City and County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations and others.
Better Start will also work in close cooperation with the National Early Years Inspectorate at Tusla and with the Early Years Inspectorate at the Department of Education and Skills to ensure consistency of approach and a shared understanding of early years’ quality.
Dr. Margaret Rogers, the National Manager at Better Start said ‘studies nationally and internationally have shown that high quality early childhood care and education experiences are highly beneficial for children in both the short and long term, supporting early cognitive, social and emotional development, critical for effective learning. They are also crucial in addressing inequalities as early as possible.’