Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Admin Overload?


Tuesday 31 October 2017

My name is Amy McArdle and I have been the Policy Officer in Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) since May 2016. My background is in law, human rights and politics, but I have been working in policy for over 10 years.

There are a lot of policy issues relevant to early years services like those inspected under the Regulations. ECI also develops our own policies and positions around practice in services. This type of policy belongs to the Training and Practice and Support Point sides of the ECI house. The policy I work on is more about national government policy on early years, and trying to influence decision makers.

As a member of the Policy, Advocacy and Communications team, it is my job to develop and communicate ECI’s key advocacy pillars: quality; sustainability; and affordability to Ministers, politicians, and policy makers in government departments. I make the case for investment and argue for where it is needed and why. As you can imagine, Budget time, when government departments reveal how much money they have secured and how they plan to spend it, is a very important time in my work and our Pre-Budget Submission and post Budget analysis are good examples of the types of things I write. I also write ECI’s submissions to the government on various issues and I play a key role in our work with other organisations in Ireland who are working on issues which affect the lives of young children.

I have learnt an incredible amount in my time in ECI so far. In putting forward our policy positions, I rely on the wealth of knowledge and experience throughout ECI’s management and specialist teams and I work closely with our Policy and Implementation Panel of ECI members to ensure that my work reflects the reality on the ground. However, I am still very conscious that I have no personal experience in operating, managing or working in a service. To counter this, and to get a better sense of the incredible work being done, I visit different ECI member services. Most recently, I spent the first of two days with our Panel member Valarie Gaynor, Manager of Creative Kids in Walkinstown, Dublin.

What I learnt shadowing Valerie on a very busy day in late September was invaluable. It transformed my understanding of the administrative demands on services from theory to reality. This is what I need to get through to the decision makers who, like me, are not familiar with the practical workings of early years services, even though they are in charge of developing the policies which services are expected to implement and which have a huge impact on all providers.

The Administrative Burden
I write all the time about the growing administrative burden services face with the introduction of new and revised Government funded childcare programmes. I thought I got it until I spent a day living it.

The idea that a service could pin point the number of hours per day or per week dedicated to the management and administration of the numerous childcare schemes, in addition to their compliance and governance requirements, is completely out of touch with the reality of daily life in a service. There is a wonderful vibe in Creative Kids. It is warm and inviting and accessible. It’s everything a parent would want from a service that educates and cares for their young children. But warm and inviting and accessible can also mean hectic from a ‘structured work’ perspective. I don’t think I saw Valerie complete a single task without an interruption: PPS numbers being rejected on PIP; continuous calls and texts from parents and staff; knocks on the door from parents wanting to pay fees, ask questions, have a chat; needing to nip out to manage breaks and ratios and step in where staff were out sick. The list goes on.

Managers in early years services simply do not have the luxury of uninterrupted time in their offices, and in a sector where space is at a premium many don’t have an office, to get their administration work done. Furthermore, this isn’t their real job. It is certainly a part of it but the most important role of an early years' manager to ensure children in the service are having the best experience possible and that staff are supported to make this happen.

I asked Valerie if she gets frustrated at how difficult it can be to get things done. I certainly can’t imagine meeting any deadlines in her circumstances. Everything gets done eventually she said, often at home at the end of a busy day in the service. Her frustrations lie elsewhere: the lack of understanding DCYA has about the environment providers are operating in; the lack of flexibility with the PIP system; the amount of paper that is generated for every child registered; the need to track down parents whenever a clarification is needed; the lack of a detailed breakdown with Pobal payments. Again, the list goes on and it all serves to slow down the day to day work even further.

Linking in with providers is one of the ways ECI seeks to underpin our policy and advocacy work on behalf of our 3,800 members and it is vital to us that we can do this. Having seen the reality of the so called ‘administrative burden’ with my own eyes, I will now be able to articulate these problems with more assurance and authority in the future.

I want to say a huge thank you to Valarie and all the team in Creative Kids, Walkinstown for hosting my visit. ECI is so grateful for the opportunity and the trust placed in us to be facilitated in this way. I really look forward to my second day shadowing the Early Years Educators and children at their work and in their play. I will write about these learnings in a future blog.

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Mary Delargy says:

    Amy I am delighted to hear that you spent time at the coal face to help you better understand the crisis in childcare.It is a shame that Tusla inspectors are not requited to do the same. Garda vetting is still an issue!!! Are there any moves to improve on this? Or are we to be put in the position were we are forced to commit an offence in order to stay in business! Best scenario is a week-how can we ask staff to absorb extra children (which puts them out of ratio)? Shortage of staff still an issue-we have 3 ways to be non compliant when we get hit with a staff member being outsick-non compliant on ratio, non compliant on qualifications-( if we get lucky enough to find someone suitable to do relief but without level 5) or non compliant on Garda Clearance because of the time it takes to get clearance back.

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Sustainable(1) Digital Devices(1) toddlers(3) democracy(1) early life(1) Map(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) conference(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) overhear(1) purpose(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) respect(5) movement behaviours(1) Names(1) Playdough(1) Academics(1) IGL(1) pets(1) CIT(1) Inspections(1) Teamwork(1) Recycling(2) social media policy(1) Playschool(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) conversations(1) Kindness(1) Touch(1) Yoga(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Positivity(1) Mathematicians(1) Leargas(1) Supernanny(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Celebrate(1) play stories(2) Graduation(1) Flowers(1) Twitter(1) Little Buddies(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Rich Documentation(1) Early Years Educators(3) Inspired Practice Award(6) Leprechauns(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Titles(1) Intention(1) children’s learning(1) racism(1) Children(4) UNCRC(2) Arts(1) Sculptures(1) Síolta QAP(1) Music(3) Drawing(2) Engagement(1) Learning journals(1) National Awards 2019(1) Storytelling(7) Academic Skills(1) multi-generational community(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Wrapping paper(1) Reggio(1) Health(2) Early Childhood Education(1) listening(1) Equality(1) Fabric(1) Affordability(1) Elders(1) Cognitive development(1) Anthony Semann(1) Iceland(1) structure(1) University(1) SAC(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Maternity Leave(1) RTE Investigates(1) Human Resources(1) Workplace Relations(3) Montessori(3) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Builders(1) Treasure Chest(1) coronavirus(1) Educators(2) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) development(8) family time(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) EECERA 2016(1) early years settings(1) UN(1) Magnavacchi(1) Covid pandemic(2) Looking Back(1) Quality(4) behavioural science(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Counting(1) Limerick(1) Running(1) Sustainability(3) Budget 2020(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Awards 2018(3) imotion(1) story time(2) The Lullaby Book(1) Appreciation(1) risk assessment(1) Engineering(3) National Pyjama Day(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Italy(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) peer group(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Seanchaí(1) listen(1) phone apps(1) Support(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Síolta(136) Administrative Burden(1) Your place(1) ICBN(1) learners(1) Certificate(1) Xbox(1) blog(52) Afghanistan(1) emotions(2) Traffic Lights(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Large Doll Play(1) Communicating(1) Decision Making(1) National Awards 2018(2) ECCE(7) outdoor space(3) UD(1) Orla Kenny(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) mental health problems(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Horizon 2020(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) annual conference(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Iraq(1) Sweets(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Primary School(3) education(2) Pobal(1) educating(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Liz Kerrins(1) emotional well-being(1) Design(1) Learning Journal(2) Exclusion(1) Consent(1) Inspirational(2) dining experiences(1) early childhood educator(2) social media(2) Maynooth University(2) Mark Twain(1) Albert Einstein(1) Mindfulness(3) books(4) Love(3) Inter-generational(2) Giraffe(2) Participation(2) risk(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) bonds(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) School Age Childcare(1) Patterns(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Settling in(4) INTO(1) annual awards(1) friendships(1) Kerry(1) MA(1) Performance Management(1) play(35) Socioemotional development(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Favouritism(1) Challenges(1) Mayo(1) Child Care(1) iOS(1) meals(3) Grief(1) DES Inspection(1) Snakes(1) Pretend Play(1) Self Help Skills(1) aistear blog(3) babies(7) Engineering Ireland(1) European Project(1) Frustrations(1) RIE philosphy(1) Body Language(1) Belonging(3) Interests(1) Oireachtas(1) experience(1) Engineers Week(2) Margy Whalley(1) food(1) Malaguzzi(1) Party(1) community(5) Norway(2) NAEYC(1) Japan(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Trick or treat(1) Event Guide(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) MECPI(1) Craft(1) child-centric(1) Budget 2019(2) Emergent Curriculum(1) supportive environments(2) parents(6) Glitter(2) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Change(1) Queues(1) Online Research Symposium(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Kids Own(1) Confident(1) Capable(1) National Holiday(1) AIM(2) Study Trip(1) Lego(2) value(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) New Appointments(1) Reggio Emilia(2) planning(1) Mealtimes(1) Nutrition(1) documentation(4) children development(1) keezy(1) Death(2) Performing(1) Eritrea(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Window(1) Research Conference 2019(1) democratic citizens(1) Maynooth(1) developing motor skills(1) Irish(1) Learning Story(1) Interaction(1) Line-ups(1) Scents(1) Arithmetic(1) Recycle(1) Arlene Forster(1) Snack Time(1) staying connected(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Valentine's Day(3) Vietnam(1) healthy eating policies(1) Our Little Seed(1) Art(6) Hand Hygiene(2) Workplace well-being(1) show and tell(1) dogs(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Vertical grouping(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) CCTV(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) role playing(1) Inclusion(3) Obesity(1) Children's Rights(3) Staff Motivation(1) Research Seminar(1) Covid19 crisis(1) linc(1) keep in touch(1) Inter-generational learning(2) primary education(1) ELC(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) scéalta(55) outdoor play(6) grandchild(1) Self-Esteem(1) Childhood(1) Universal Design(2) Communications(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) EECERA(1) pablo(1) Whole Group(1) Building Resilience(1) Light table(1) Pre-School Services(1) journey(1) Spiders(1) communication(4) Competent(1) Childcare(3) Reflective Practice(1) Digital(1) Summer(1) Creativity(6) COVID-19(14) Blocks(1) reopening(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Exploring(1) Identity(5) research submissions(1) Winter(1) educarer(1) dining(1) Prexit(1) Care-giving routines(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) responsive relationships(1) ERASMUS+(3) Nonverbal(1) feisty(1) Technology(3) Family wall(1) Tuscan Approach(2) International Narratives(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Gardening(1) Shoes(1) Magda Gerber(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Potential(1) science week(2) National Childcare Scheme(1) memories(1) science(3) Early Years(1) Return to Work Training(1) Interactions(3) Learning Stories(9) Leaders in Practice(1) Halloween(2) Ceremony(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) playleader(1) risky play(2) Culture(2) Bereavement(2) Traditions(2) Leadership(1) Seas Suas(1) lockdown(1) Trade Unions(1) First 5(1) Awards 2019(1) Through the looking glass(1) Empathy(1) curiosity(3) Buddies(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) apps for children(1) Funding(1) ears(1) dublin(2) Children's Voice(1) refugees(1) Creative(1) Meal time(1) Smiles(1) Mantra(1) Jenga(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Biting(1) Policy(2) STEM(3) Family(1) stories(3) Upcycling(1) Infectious diseases(1) Role play(1) ReCreate(2) Thinking(1) Games(1) Opportunities(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Mixed age groups(3) Exploratory Play(1) reading(5) early years learning(1) Meet the Members(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Wesco(1) Mud kitchens(1) Online(1) play pods(2) Degree(1) Social Skills(1) christmas(9) june29(1) Plastic(1) online training(1) outdoors(4) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) play pod(1) Sociodramatic play(1) First 5 strategy(1) Weather(1) Book Club(2) Covid response(2) Adoption(1) Santa(2) Time Out(1) Behaviour(3) Wonder(1) inspiring interactions(1) Stress(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Treasure(1) mushrooms(1) Aistear(130) Small World Play(1) maternity health(1) Employee(1) emotional environment(2) early years research(2) Diversity(1) reopening ireland(1) Sport(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Community involvement(1) NCCA(3) Youtube Series(1) art of the relationship(1) The Jelly King(1) Sleep(1) Well-Being(10) curriculum(5) under 3's(3) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Wendy Lee(3) Laughter(1) ECIAwards20(1) Document Learning(1) SPICE Framework(1) outdoor environment(1) Self-regulation(1) Sessional service(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Celebrations(4) preschool settings(1) World Health Organisation(1) environments(1) childcare services(1) preschool(4) Mental Health(4) Kindness Challenge(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) bloom app(1) Magic(1) learning(19) TOY Programme(1) CPD(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Gratitude(1) Wilenski(1) Mount Everest(1) Photographs(1) Pedagogy(2) worries(1) Training(2) Reading Time(1) Syria(1) Snacks(1) Awards(2) child-centred approach(1) life long learning(1) Siolta blog(8) United Nations(1) Easter(1) Maths Week(1) Maria Montessori(1) Care routines(1) budget(1) Professionalisation(5) Awards Night(1) gender bias(1) Loss(1) Shapes(2) relationships(18) trust(4) Christmas Creativity(2) PIP(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Painting(1) GDPR(1) Brain(1) Masterclass(2) social science(1) Visual Impairment(1) Trade union(1) Pen green(1) Imagination(3) Breathing(2) Loving Relationships(2) Inspiring Practice(1) education system(1) UNICEF report(1) Irish guidelines(1) animals(2) Routines(2) routine(2) San Miniato(4) Budget 2018(1) Thank you(1) ECEC(3) EM Standing(1) Investment(2) Visitors(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Laugh(1) TRAP(1) Child mental health(1) early childhood(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) DCYA(6) Sequins(1) Mo Scéal(1) Impact(1) HR(1) Graduate(1) Confidence(1) awards 2020(1) youdoodle(1) collaboration(1) eating(1) College(1) Relaxation(1) continual professional development(1) Thanks(1) code of ethics(1) Kilkenny(1) Infection Control(1) Rituals(1) gender stereotype(1) Time(1) Fee Play(1) Children and families(1) Environment(2) Buddy Bench(1) Workforce(1) Qualifications(1) Facebook(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Looking Forward(1) E.coli(1) Home Corner(1) interacting(2) learning hub(1) Trigonometry(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Autism(4) National Annual Awards 2020(1) man up(1) creche(1) Maths(6) Maths Week Ireland(1) Book Review(1) learning bias(1) Penguins(1) baby room(1) Scéalta Blog(104) Fantasy play(1) Plants(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) research(6) Decisions(1) Cork(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Feeding(1) Early Years Education(1) transitions(10) ECEC Setting(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Advocacy(1) AsIAm(2) Anxiety(2) Exit interview(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Dance(1) Story(2) Exercise(1) play therapy(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Independence(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Children's Research Network(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine