ChildLinks Issue 3: Equality and Diversity in Early Childhood Care and Education

Barnardos. (2013). Equality and Diversity in Early Childhood Care and Education.
The Early Years Strategy (DCYA, 2013) states that respect for diversity, equity and inclusion are prerequisites for optimal development and learning. We know from research that children as young as two years of age are beginning to form their views about diversity and are developing both positive and negative attitudes to difference. Early years practitioners are well placed, therefore, to encourage respect for diversity in young children by actively providing all children with the opportunity to consolidate a secure sense of their own identities while also facilitating awareness of differences from others. In this issue of ChildLinks, Colette Murray from EDeNn discusses diversity and equality from an Irish perspective, looking at the need for a comprehensive approach to diversity and equality in ECCE (early childhood care and education) and raises questions for the early years sector regarding future work for social justice and inclusion. Clare Childcare Committee give an overview of The Pre-school Education Initiative for Children from Minority Groups, which is the first time that a common approach and belief set in relation to diversity and equality training for ECCE practitioners and services, had been delivered at a national level. The issue of diversity and equality is a global one, Louise Derman Sparks outlines the lessons that have emerged from the work of educators in USA and many other countries who have implemented the Anti-bias approach in diverse socio-political and cultural early childhood and care settings. Barnardos Early Intervention Service Finglas tell us how they ensure that Traveller children and families in the Finglas area receive needs-led services which enrich their lives through education and which support healthy development through valuing diversity. Diversity is not, however, confined to cultural issues. This issue of ChildLinks also looks at how educating children with special needs in ECCE is more about ‘catering for diversity’ than it is about addressing specific issues relating to a disability or special needs. Joanie Barron highlights the importance for early years practitioners to work hard to ensure that boys and girls are given equal opportunities in the preschool setting. One of our first abilities to distinguish differences in people is based on their gender and this sets the stage for one of the most difficult forms of discrimination to eradicate. The need for respect for the diversity of families in Irish societies and the importance of ensuring that they are all visible in the early years environment is also highlighted.