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Using Early Childhood Ireland’s Learning Hub to support a safe environment

By: GREG MERRIN

Monday 29 March 2021

Some readers may know me from my work, but if we haven’t spoken before, my name is Greg and I work with the Early Years Employer Service team in Early Childhood Ireland. I assist and support many of our members in implementing the Early Years regulations within their settings. One of the main regulations we take queries on is Regulation 23 of the Childcare Regulations 2016. As you’ll know, this regulation sets out the requirements around the Health, Safety and Welfare of the Child and how the service or provider can help to safeguard these and prevent the child coming to harm.

 

If you haven’t heard of it already, Early Childhood Ireland’s Learning Hub was launched last year as a benefit for our service provider members. Currently, we have around 30 courses available on the Hub, ranging from topics such as Timekeeping Skills and Presentation Skills, to Allergen Awareness and the COVID-19 Return to Work Safely.

An idea that occurred to me through my work in the Early Years Employer Service, and on the Learning Hub, is that our members have the unique opportunity to utilise our Hub to deliver on Regulation 23 and provide a safe, secure space for children that safeguards their health, safety and welfare.

To start, the Hub has an entire section dedicated to Health and Safety Compliance! The manual handling course on the Learning Hub is a must – this course goes through the correct modes of lifting and handling, body movement and will help to identify hazards and risks. Proper handling of loads will prevent injury to staff members and ensure that the environment children are spending time in is free of hazards. In addition, understanding the processes around manual handling will provide good practice for risk assessments, another vital cog in realising the implementation of Regulation 23 and safeguarding children from harm.

In addition, Fire Safety features prominently in Regulation 23. The Quality and Regulatory Framework (QRF) draws heavily on the Fire Safety In Preschools 1999 document, as well as Health and Safety Authority regulations. In particular the QRF requires relevant staff to have received training in Fire Safety, as well as a knowledge of “the requirements, and a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in relation to the fire safety policy”.

Our Fire Safety Awareness course has been designed with this in mind and it helpfully meets the requirements for both Tusla and the Health and Safety Authority. At about 90 minutes long, it is one of the longer courses, but we do recommend this for any prospective Fire Wardens in your setting. A true knowledge of this will ensure that children are in the care of staff with the requisite skills and knowledge to guarantee their safety in the event of an emergency. This should be a rightful source of pride for providers, and parents and families can have peace of mind when dropping off their children each day.

I strongly believe that Early Childhood Ireland’s Learning Hub is one of the key benefits for all service provider members, and it can really be of use in helping our members to provide a safe and compliant setting for children. I would invite any of our members to try it out, following the instructions for registering here, or to give me a call on 01 4040645 or email to chat about it. I would be delighted to hear from you.

Early Childhood Ireland’s Learning Hub is proudly supported by Skillnet Ireland.

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