ChildLinks Issue 2: Developments in Early Childhood Care and Education

Barnardos. (2009). ChildLinks Issue 2: Developments in Early Childhood Care and Education.
Welcome to this issue of ChildLinks, which focuses on recent developments in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). Writing this editorial in the week after the December Budget, it has to be acknowledged that while funding for childcare has been left relatively unscathed, parents are having to cope with a 10% cut in Child Benefit and poorer parents are also having to cope with a 4% cut in social welfare payments. There has also been a cut of €2.5 million to the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme. However, even in the context of recession and budget cuts, there are developments happening in the Early Childhood Care and Education sector that are to be welcomed. In this edition of ChildLinks we have the latest information on Aistear and the Workforce Development Plan. We have an analysis of key issues facing the ECCE sector and an outline of priorities from Start Strong, the new advocacy agency for ECCE, which is supported by Barnardos and many of the key local and national organisations involved in ECCE. The implementation of Síolta and the learning from the experience of working with early years providers in Ballymun is shared in an article by Barnardos’ Early Years Quality Co-ordinator in Ballymun. The impact of the recession in the UK on the implementation of the Governments’s 10 year strategy ‘Choice for parents, the best start for children’ is explored from the perspective of the Daycare Trust. In an Irish context, Síolta and Aistear provide quality frameworks that everybody concerned with the best interests of children will support. The key challenge remains the lack of sufficient investment to enable service providers to make these quality frameworks a reality. As the report of the National Competitiveness Council concluded earlier in 2009, international evidence indicates that Ireland is under-investing in services for younger children and given the effects of quality care and education on educational attainment and productivity in the economy, the case for targeting expenditure where returns are greatest remains strong.