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Early Childhood Ireland Response to RTÉ Investigates: Creches – Behind Closed Doors

Irish Early Years Sector leads the way in Supporting Children with Additional Needs

April 12, 2018

600 early years educators gather in Croke Park this weekend


Early Childhood Ireland will hold its national early years Research Seminar, Conference & AGM 2018 tomorrow Friday 13th and Saturday 14th April.

‘Coming Together in Difference: Leadership in Inclusion, Equality, and Diversity’ is the theme of the two-day gathering by Ireland’s largest early years organisation. Taking place as part of the event are the Irish Early Years Research Seminar; the Early Childhood Ireland National Awards, celebrating best practice; and a national conference at Croke Park.

Since the launching of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) in June 2016, more than 3,500 services and 5,000 preschool children with disabilities have benefitted from additional supports and resources. Just this week, 6,000 inclusive play packs are being delivered to preschools around the country. In addition, almost 900 early years educators have completed the LINC special purpose higher education course to become Inclusion Coordinators in their settings.

Early Childhood Ireland will welcome over 600 delegates from across the country to the two-day event. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr. Katherine Zappone TD will open the conference on Saturday. A keynote address will follow from UK educator and disability rights expert Alison John, in what will be only her second speaking engagement in Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the events, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland Teresa Heeney commented, ‘We are tremendously excited to welcome all of our delegates to the conference this weekend. Each year, the conference marks the largest gathering of the early years sector in Ireland. We are delighted to host our members and guests, including advocates, academics, and policymakers, for two days of learning, networking, and discussion.’

She continued, ‘This year’s conference will highlight the importance of inclusion for all children in early years services. Recent years have seen the introduction of a number of initiatives to support those with additional needs. While these are important and very welcome steps, the sector as a whole remains chronically underfunded.’

Ms. Heeney concluded, ‘Earlier this year, Early Childhood Ireland’s first annual Childcare Barometer revealed widespread public support for a more progressive approach to childcare in Ireland. It is imperative that Government commit to our youngest citizens and radically increase investment in the sector. This will enable early years professionals to continue leading for the future and ensure inclusion for all children.’




For more information or media queries, please contact Grace Duffy on 086 1448768.


Note to editors
Early Childhood Ireland is the largest organisation in the early years sector. It represents 3,800 childcare members, who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool, and full day-care provision nationwide.

Ireland currently invests about 0.1% of GDP in the early years sector. This is significantly below the EU average of 0.8% GDP and the international benchmark of 1% GDP recommended by UNICEF and others.

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) was launched in June 2016 to enable the full inclusion and meaningful participation of children with disabilities in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.

LINC (Leadership for Inclusion) is a special purpose higher education award launched in September 2017. The programme trains early years practitioners to become Inclusion Coordinators in their settings. Services with a LINC graduate can avail of a €2 increase per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation. Since LINC was launched, there have been 847 LINC graduates, with up to 1,200 places offered for new enrolments this year.

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