ItemChildLinks Issue 3: Parenting Support Programmes(Barnardos, 2019) BarnardosFamilies in Ireland today face a wide range of issues that can have a negative impact on children’s development, wellbeing, learning, achievement, family function and peer relationships. Long-term risks ultimately include adult mental health and family welfare issues as well as issues with crime, employment and economic independence. Early interventions, including parenting support that is evidence-based and contextually and culturally meaningful, can be an effective. Often, however, families do not get the help they need or support does not come early enough to have a real impact, the scale of the need outweighs the service capacity available, or access and engagement is affected by complex referral pathways and stigma. A growing body of research emphasises the importance of investing in parenting and family support services, emphasising the transformative potential of prevention and early intervention in improving outcomes for children and families. In this issue of ChildLinks we look at parenting support programmes, which, to be successful, must be flexible to address the different needs of parents in different contexts. In the first article Dr Carmel Devaney and Dr Rosemary Crosse from UNESCO Child and Family Centre in NUI Galway outline the evolution of parenting support in Ireland as a policy imperative and the role of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency in parenting support. Also in this issue Rev Emerald-Jane Turner, an occupational therapist, trauma consultant, psychotherapist and interfaith minister in the UK, considers how humans can become overwhelmed due to trauma and the importance of calm and self-compassion. The other articles in this issue relate to Partnership with ParentsTM (PwP), an intensive, home-based, one-to-one parenting support programme for parents with multiple and complex needs, developed by Barnardos Ireland. Articles give an overview of the design and implementation of the programme and also evidence from a mixed method evaluation, which demonstrates how the unique design and implementation of PwP works well within the complex, real world, everyday lives of parents. ItemChildLinks Issue 2: Children and the Arts(Barnardos, 2019) BarnardosThis issue of ChildLinks looks at the impact of the arts on the lives of children. Arts experiences offer children the opportunity to immerse themselves in creative learning with complete freedom of expression, supporting cognitive, social emotional and physical development, communication skills, confidence, empathy, identity and belonging. Arts experiences deepen children’s understanding both of themselves and the world around them, and broaden and develop their creative capacities. Indeed, Objective 3 of First 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028 explicitly names arts and cultural activities as among the factors that will improve the quality of children’s day-to-day lives, ‘Every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreation activities appropriate to the age of the child, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts’. A number of articles in this issue consider the role of the arts in early childhood education and care including an extract from a new publication from Barnardos and the National Childhood Network Explore, Play and Learn through Arts in Pre-school Settings, which looks at the benefits of the arts for young children. There is also an overview of two early years arts programme; the first looking at an arts project introduced into an ECEC setting in Co. Clare and the outcomes for the setting, and the second outlining ArtVentures, a four-week programme with a focus on the visual arts in Sure Start projects in Northern Ireland. This issue also includes an overview of the Arts in Education Portal, a digital space led by the Department of Education and Skills where both artists and teachers can be supported and inspired. There are also articles looking at arts projects focused on a particular medium including Creative Dance Tales, designed to promote creative dance as part of the Physical Education Curriculum, to inform and encourage a cross curricular approach to learning, and contribute to developing varied pedagogical practices in dance. Another article outlines Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, which seeks to address the systematic dismissal of children’s voices within our society, and offers a platform for children’s lives and experiences to be valued and made visible through publishing and the arts. Finally, Emer Smyth of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) considers arts and cultural participation among children and young people, and questions whether disadvantage makes a difference. ItemChildLinks Issue 1: Inspections in Early Childhood Education and Care(Barnardos, 2019) BarnardosInspections in early childhood education and care settings provide a tool to assess the quality of provision and have great potential to impact positively on children’s early learning experiences. Inspection processes can often also be a positive experience for early years educators, endorsing practice and raising standards. They can, however, bring challenges. Early years services in Ireland have been subject to regulatory inspection for over 20 years since the first pre-school regulations were published in 1996. Since then, settings have been assessed for compliance across a number of areas such as governance; the health, welfare and development of children; the safety and suitability of facilities and premises; and more. Settings in Ireland are also subject to inspection by Pobal to ensure they are adhering to the stated terms of funding programmes such as the ECCE scheme. More recently, early years education inspections have been introduced to evaluate the nature, range and appropriateness of early educational experiences offered to young children. All of these inspections, coupled with a series of other developments in the Irish early years sector in recent years aimed at improving the quality of services for children and families, are to be welcomed, but they come at a rapid pace for early years providers. This issue of ChildLinks considers early years inspections in Ireland from a number of perspectives, looking at both the benefits and the challenges of quality monitoring. In the first article, Helen Rouine, Quality Improvement Manager in Tusla Early Years Inspectorate, gives an overview of Tusla inspections in Ireland and outlines both recent developments, such as the Quality and Regulatory Framework, and future plans. Dr Maresa Duignan, Assistant Chief Inspector Early Years Policy and Practice, then describes the progress to date in the establishment and implementation of early education inspections by the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills. Also included in this issue are articles that consider the role of inspections from the perspective of the early years provider. First, the manager of an early years services outlines her recent experiences of inspections and some of the challenges facing ECEC settings in Ireland today. Marian Quinn, Chairperson of the Association of Childhood Professionals, then considers the need for improved working conditions for members of the ECEC and how this links to the inspection system. Finally, Sharon Byrne, Early Years Development Co-Ordinator with Barnardos, considers the role of early years mentors in supporting settings to interpret inspection requirements, reflect on how they are currently meeting standards, set goals and review progress.