Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Admin Overload?

Amy McArdle


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:

San Miniato(4) Department of Education and Skills(1) Communicating(1) Mealtimes(1) friendships(1) Participation(1) Intention(1) Environment(2) IGL(1) Academics(1) Plants(1) worries(1) Inspirational(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Appreciation(1) Staff Motivation(1) Treasure(1) San Minia(1) Plastic(1) Care routines(1) routine(2) RIE philosphy(1) budget(1) overhear(1) Performing(1) Competent(1) Sustainable(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Eritrea(1) value(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) journey(1) Stress(2) Mayo(1) Traditions(2) Traffic Lights(1) risk assessment(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Learning Story(1) Reggio Children Network(1) PIP(1) Workplace Relations(3) development(8) Thinking(1) Craft(1) research(6) ears(1) Meet the Members(1) Kerry(1) Book Club(2) Diversity(1) Technology(2) Arts(1) Socioemotional development(1) curiosity(3) Touch(1) Early Learning and Care(1) stories(2) science week(2) Síolta(105) Masterclass(2) Challenges(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Line-ups(1) early years research(1) Self-Esteem(1) Bereavement(2) Breathing(2) Advocacy(1) mushrooms(1) eating(1) planning(1) SPICE Framework(1) National Holiday(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) learning(16) Learning journals(1) Buddy Bench(1) Kids Own(1) Winter(1) Pobal(1) Maynooth University(1) role playing(1) Nutrition(1) Learning Stories Award(3) General Data Protection Regulation(1) ERASMUS+(3) Policy(2) Awards 2018(3) Montessori(3) Special Needs Assistants(1) Photographs(1) parents(5) Kilkenny(1) Role play(1) Wonder(1) maternity health(1) Trick or treat(1) Xbox(1) Nonverbal(1) NCCA(3) Budget 2019(2) Frustrations(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Early Years Educators(2) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Iraq(1) Mo Scéal(1) Affordability(1) Engagement(1) Reggio(1) scéalta(29) Leadership(1) Gratitude(1) Fantasy play(1) reading(5) Human Resources(1) Interaction(1) Twitter(1) respect(5) Aistear(110) Children's Rights(2) Snakes(1) memories(1) baby room(1) Exercise(1) dining(1) Sport(1) Culture(2) Research Conference 2019(1) Time Out(1) outdoors(3) Leargas(1) Degree(1) Administrative Burden(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Trade union(1) Potential(1) Ceremony(1) Playdough(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Upcycling(1) Educators(1) toddlers(3) Autism(3) Cognitive development(1) Awards(2) Imagination(3) EM Standing(1) GDPR(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Irish(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Italy(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Grief(1) Visual Impairment(1) Cork(1) Anxiety(2) Professionalisation(4) Settling in(4) risk(2) School Age Childcare(1) communication(4) food(1) TOY Programme(1) Painting(1) Magic(1) Research Seminar(1) Confident(1) Orla Kenny(1) Celebrations(4) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Drawing(2) Self-regulation(1) Infection Control(1) Engineers Week(2) Primary School(2) Change(1) Interests(1) early childhood educator(1) Well-Being(9) meals(3) Queues(1) Sleep(1) Map(1) Laughter(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Seas Suas(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Maynooth(1) Yoga(1) European Project(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) feisty(1) Maths Week(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Health(2) life long learning(1) listening(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Capable(1) Scéalta Blog(89) Laugh(1) Children(1) CPD(1) Exclusion(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Patterns(1) RTE Investigates(1) Builders(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Running(1) risky play(2) Flowers(1) Empathy(1) play stories(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) HR(1) University(1) Story(1) curriculum(5) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Sweets(1) bonds(1) Mount Everest(1) STEM(2) Budget 2018(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Family(1) Norway(2) christmas(8) Glitter(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) Learning Stories(8) Elders(1) Design(1) Interactions(2) Employee(1) Performance Management(1) Vietnam(1) Inter-generational learning(2) The Lullaby Book(1) educating(1) UD(1) Creativity(4) National Awards 2019(1) Blocks(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Leprechauns(1) Santa(2) EECERA 2016(1) Decision Making(1) Love(2) Sequins(1) Training(2) Names(1) Feeding(1) blog(28) Mathematicians(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Iceland(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Funding(1) Infectious diseases(1) Horizon 2020(1) Children's Research Network(1) Pen green(1) Our Little Seed(1) Lego(2) Oireachtas(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) social media(1) Art(6) Tuscan Approach(2) Recycling(2) Trigonometry(1) Through the looking glass(1) community(5) emotions(2) Games(1) Childcare(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) experience(1) Academic Skills(1) Communications(1) First 5(1) Exploring(1) Facebook(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Wendy Lee(2) Universal Design(2) First 5 strategy(1) Identity(5) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) AIM(2) Child mental health(1) National Awards 2018(2) Obesity(1) Inter-generational(2) Maria Montessori(1) Support(1) Buddies(1) Community involvement(1) Whole Group(1) Awards 2019(1) Fabric(1) documentation(2) Gardening(1) Mixed age groups(2) Visitors(1) Engineering(2) Japan(1) Children and families(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) educarer(1) UNCRC(1) Brain(1) Scents(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Certificate(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) science(3) collaboration(1) College(1) Vertical grouping(1) Positivity(1) Penguins(1) ECCE(6) Independence(1) Afghanistan(1) animals(2) National Pyjama Day(1) Adoption(1) Hand Hygiene(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Event Guide(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) NAEYC(1) Decisions(1) MA(1) TRAP(1) Summer(1) Teamwork(1) Impact(1) dining experiences(1) Wilenski(1) listen(1) Rituals(1) Self Help Skills(1) Arlene Forster(1) Shapes(1) Syria(1) Maternity Leave(1) Mindfulness(2) St. Patrick's Day(1) Graduate(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Mud kitchens(1) Treasure Chest(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Mark Twain(1) Home Corner(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Budget 2020(1) conversations(1) Study Trip(1) Trade Unions(1) books(4) The Jelly King(1) purpose(1) Easter(1) Music(3) E.coli(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Celebrate(1) New Appointments(1) Window(1) Magnavacchi(1) Weather(1) Meal time(1) Little Buddies(1) Workforce(1) linc(1) Smiles(1) Investment(2) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) transitions(10) Mental Health(3) Quality(4) Biting(1) MECPI(1) Inclusion(3) Children's Voice(1) Dance(1) Identity and Belonging(4) preschool(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Magda Gerber(1) outdoor play(6) Consent(1) Thank you(1) emotional environment(1) Shoes(1) Sculptures(1) child-centred approach(1) Prexit(1) DCYA(4) babies(7) Emergent Curriculum(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Mantra(1) Arithmetic(1) pets(1) Supernanny(1) Spiders(1) Time(1) AsIAm(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Routines(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Limerick(1) Qualifications(1) Early Years(1) Valentine's Day(3) Albert Einstein(1) Halloween(2) Sociodramatic play(1) Wesco(1) Sustainability(3) Síolta QAP(1) Jenga(1) ICBN(1) relationships(17) Graduation(1) Loss(1) Party(1) supportive environments(2) education(2) CIT(1) Behaviour(3) Family wall(1) Recycle(1) dublin(2) Workplace well-being(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) under 3's(3) Childhood(1) UN(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Confidence(1) INTO(1) Giraffe(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Siolta blog(2) Snacks(1) Social Skills(1) Wrapping paper(1) Thanks(1) Belonging(3) story time(1) Exit interview(1) Reflective Practice(1) play(31) Liz Kerrins(1) ReCreate(2) Care-giving routines(1) trust(3) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Favouritism(1) Light table(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Storytelling(2) outdoor space(3) Body Language(1) ECEC(1) Margy Whalley(1) Relaxation(1) Snack Time(1) interacting(2) Malaguzzi(1) Playschool(1) United Nations(1) dogs(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Maths(4) Death(2) grandchild(1) CCTV(1) Creative(1) Online(1) refugees(1) environments(1) Titles(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine