ChildLinks Issue 1: Child Care Regulations (the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016)
Barnardos. (2016). ChildLinks Issue 1: Child Care Regulations (the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016). https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/87
There have been a number of welcome developments in the early years sector in Ireland in recent months. The new Child Care Regulations (the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016), prepared to underpin a number of key reforms to the sector to improve quality standards, came into effect in Ireland on a phased basis on 30th June 2016. The new regulations provide for pre school services, that is, those services catering for children under the age of six who are not attending primary school. There are a number of changes from the previous regulations, most notably in the requirements around registration, policies and procedures, management and staff, records and qualifications among others. These new demands will make services safer for children and will be reassuring for parents. One notable omission from the new Regulations, however, is that there is no mention of a Child Protection policy among the list of mandatory policies, which means Tusla is not inspecting early years services for child protection policies. This is a serious issue, given that the age of the children involved, some of whom are not yet verbal, makes them particularly vulnerable. Another development in the early years sector in Ireland is the commencement of the education-focused inspections in pre-schools participating in the government’s Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. These inspections are the topic of the first article in this issue of ChildLinks from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, which highlights the acknowledgement in the Early-Years Education-focused Inspection Quality Framework that play is central to children’s learning and development. Placing play firmly on the agenda will support the development of sustainable pedagogies of play in the early years. In the second article in this issue, Jenna Russell from Barnardos Brighter Futures in Cork describes her experience working with children who struggle with behaviour challenges and the support these children need to participate in the routine and benefit from the curriculum. Parents of children with behaviour issues will also need support and advice to understand the strategies used in the early years setting and how best to ensure the strategies used are consistent and effective in the home environment. A second article from Barnardos highlights the impact on children living with parental substance misuse and the importance of being open and willing to discuss the issue. An article from the National Childhood Network outlines the Healthy Ireland Smart Start Programme. The programme covers a range of topics such as health promotion; emotional well-being/literacy; physical activity; nutrition/healthy eating; oral health; and health and safety. The aim of the programme is to build the capacity of pre-school practitioners working with children aged 3–5 years to promote healthy lifestyle practices in children and families. Other articles in this issue look at the effect of labour market activation on child wellbeing and the impact of children’s transition from pre-school to formal schooling on schools and early years practitioners.