Barnardos. (2020). ChildLinks Issue 1: School Age Childcare.https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/91
While the school age childcare (SAC) sector in Ireland is one of the fastest growing services provided for school-going children, it has developed in an unregulated and largely ad hoc manner. Having been overlooked for many years, things are beginning to change. Notable developments include the publication of An Action Plan for School Age Childcare in 2017 as well as enactment of
policies that ensure that SAC providers register with Tusla and that enable services to avail of the National Childcare Scheme. Forthcoming National Standards for SAC are expected to provide guidance across a range of areas such as ratios, required qualifications for staff and the curriculum. At the time of publication, Governments across the world are responding to the complexity of the health, economic and social issues associated with COVID 19 and it is impossible to predict the longer-term impacts this will have on services for children and families. Future developments in SAC must, however, ensure that after a long day in school, children have the opportunity to socialise with friends, play, relax, and to participate in a wide range of cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activities. In the first article in this issue of ChildLinks, Drs Mary Moloney and Jennifer Pope from Mary Immaculate College outline findings of a research study visit to Denmark, reflecting on how SAC is organised, governed and supported in Denmark, and proposing recommendations for Irish policy makers on the on-going development of the SAC infrastructure in Ireland. Later in this issue, Dr Jennifer Cartmel of Griffith University in Queensland considers SAC in Australia, acknowledging the emerging cohort of practitioners there who are keen to support the professionalisation of the sector as well as enhanced communication and governance processes between host schools and services. In order to strive for quality in SAC we must also be sure to listen to the voice of children themselves to shape and inform regulations and quality standards developed for SAC. In the third article in this issue, Dr Deirdre Horgan from University College Cork examines government consultations with
children in Ireland on school age childcare (SAC) against the background of the wider child participation agenda. Following this, an article from Barnardos considers afterschool services in Limerick South and how children and families can be best supported through interagency working. Finally, Karen Clince of Tigers Childcare considers the opportunities that school age care offers to support children’s social and emotional development, leading to better outcomes for children.
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