Better Start National Early Years Quality Development Initiative was established in 2014 by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in association with the Department of Education and Skills to co-ordinate the work of existing State-funded supports for quality in early year’s settings and to manage the Early Years Specialist Service. This Service works with early years settings in a mentoring capacity to promote and develop the quality of practice, as set out in Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education, and Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework.
Better Start is a Government initiative. It is fully funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and is hosted by Pobal on behalf of the Department.
In June 2015, an Inter-Departmental Group led by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs with representatives from the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Health and other Statutory and specialist agencies was established to agree a model that would support access to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme for children with a disability. A model for inclusion was developed and implementation of this model of Government-funded supports will commence in 2016. As part of this implementation, the Better Start Early Years Specialist Inclusion Service is being developed. Applications are now being invited for Early Years Specialists to be appointed to implement the access and inclusion model.
The role of the Early Years Specialist (Access and Inclusion) is to support a range of diverse early years ECCE settings to assist them in enabling inclusive practice and the optimal participation of a child with disability in the pre-school room. The Early Years Specialist, (Access and Inclusion) team will work in partnership with the management/staff to develop and implement the service which will be informed by the core elements of Síolta and Aistear.