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Policy and Implementation Panel

May 17, 2016

Invitation to Members to join a Policy and Implementation Panel

Introduction

Early Childhood Ireland invites members to put themselves forward to be on a Policy and Implementation Panel for discussions and consultations on key policy issues concerning early childhood education and care, and how policy is being implemented.  Members of the Panel may be asked to attend meetings to discuss issues that arise from time to time, to contribute to ECI’s positioning on these issues, and in some circumstances to attend meetings with officials from relevant Government Departments. 

Background

The early childhood sector is in the middle of rapid change and faces considerable challenges, as Government Departments and their agencies expand their role and their funding.  In Early Childhood Ireland we are focused on further developing our role in advocating for policy change, as well as our responsibility to ensure that the implementation of Government decisions takes full account of the realities of the sector.  

In the last year, for example, Early Childhood Ireland has been active in influencing policy and implementation on a range of matters, including in the following areas:

Investment in Childcare

  • Influencing the work of the ‘Interdepartmental Group on Investment in Childcare’ (IDG) established by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in 2015. When the IDG released its report in September, we held five consultation meetings with members around the country to tease through the contents and guide our advocacy in this area. 
  • Influencing Budget 2016 through, for example, our economic analysis and proposals in “Footsteps for the Future” (July 2015) and in meetings with relevant Government Ministers, officials from Government Departments and other key policy makers in the run up to the Budget (May to October 2015).
  • Analysing the Budget when it was announced, and:
    • disseminating information explaining the changes to members, parents and others, including a Frequently Asked Questions section on our website and a Comprehensive Budget Briefing for members (October to November 2015);
    • seeking clarification on particular issues and advocating for changes to plans, such as successfully campaigning to amend the higher capitation / lower capitation rules.
  • influencing public opinion through our presence in the media, including extensive radio coverage and newspaper articles.

Children with Additional Needs

  • Influencing Government thinking through a submission to the IDG titled “Children with Additional Needs – A Model of Provision”, and holding a consultative meeting in May 2015, facilitating members’ input into the deliberations of the IDG.
  • Providing information on the specific announcements made in Budget 2016 to support access to the pre-school year for children with a disability, using a seven-step inclusion model.  
  • Following up with DCYA on pertinent issues regarding the implementation of Government plans, including a meeting with key officials, attended by members of ECI’s Working Group (April 2016).

 

Qualifications, Education and Training

  • Holding five provincial consultation meetings with members (April – May 2015) to hear their views regarding the Review of Qualifications, Education and Training Programmes being developed by the Department of Education and Skills.

 

General Election Campaign

Campaigning strongly to influence the general election campaign, and the subsequent Programme for Government: 

  • Meeting Political Parties and identified Independents and working with them on their commitments in their Manifestos, and advocating for a specific focus on childcare during their election campaigns.
  • Communicating key messages through traditional and social media, including contributing to media coverage of relevant issues and promoting a focus on childcare to media at key campaign events.
  • Conducting a social media campaign and ran online adverts, aimed primarily at parents, particularly during the leaders’ debates.
  • Including pieces by political parties in December’s ‘Early Times’.
  • Providing a guide for members and others within the sector on campaigning for the General Election, in hard copy and online, under the #VoteForChildcare banner.
  • Preparing, launching and disseminating a ‘doorhanger’ which members distributed to 100,000 parents and childcare staff, and encouraging them to use the content of these materials ‘on the doorsteps’ and in online campaigns with candidates.
  • Preparing, promoting and disseminating a simple one-minute campaign video with simple messaging, leading to over 104,261 views.
  • Running a campaign where members drew or painted a big poster to promote the #VoteForChildcare theme, and promoting photos of these through social media.
  • After the election, working with all political parties and elected TDS to guide their thinking on the commitments in the Programme for Government. We succeeded in influencing the resulting agreement in some key areas. 

 

It is likely that the pace of change will continue over the coming period.  We know that there are a range of issues that will need to be addressed, such as funding of early education and care, the inspection and regulations that govern the sector, the professionalisation of the workforce, the viability and sustainability of settings, etc.  Early Childhood Ireland is mindful of the need to keep members informed and involved in contributing to real solutions, so that the sector can best contribute to shaping its own future. 

 

The Panel

ECI’s Policy and Implementation Panel will be comprised of approximately 30 people, drawn from a broad cross-section of ECI’s members.  It is envisaged that some members of the Panel will be convened and asked to contribute through email discussions as well as meetings (in person, or via teleconference) from time to time, on the issues on which they have a particular expertise and knowledge. 

Some Key Issues

Groups of the Panel may be formed to consider some of the issues listed below.  Note that this list is not complete, and may be added to from time to time.  Members of the Panel may be asked to contribute on one or more issue. 

  • Sustainability and Viability
  • ECCE Expansion and Rolling Enrolment
  • Quality and Inspections
  • Professionalisation
  • Funding Schemes
  • Children with Additional Needs
  • Training and Development
  • Pay and Conditions
  • Planning Laws
  • Priorities for Investment
  • Families and Parents
  • Qualifications
  • Curriculum
  • Commercial Rates

 

The purpose of the Panel is to:

  1. Act as a ‘sounding board’ on issues relating to Government policies and their implementation in the early years sector,
  2. Contribute to ECI’s positioning on these issues,
  3. Attend meetings and hosting visits, where appropriate, with Government officials and other policy makers so that they might benefit first-hand from the knowledge and experience of the sector as it faces the challenges relating to relevant policy and implementation issues.

In practice the Panel is likely to be issue-driven and task-oriented.  It will build on the experience of ECI’s ‘Working Group on Expansion and Reform’ that was formed after Budget 2016.  For example, a group of 4-7 people might assemble to discuss how we should best interact with DCYA on its plans for the inclusion of children with additional needs. 

Interested? 

Applications are now closed. If you are interested in being part of the ECI Policy and Implementation Panel, just go to www.earlychildhoodireland.ie/panel and fill in your details.

We’re looking for a good mix of people with varying interests and knowledge to be part of the Panel.  We will select the panel from members that apply, using the criteria set out below. 

NB: Not everybody that applies will be part of the Panel.  It is likely that there will be many more applicants than places available. 

Criteria

  1. Membership of Early Childhood Ireland, and not part of any other organisation or network where a conflict of interest might arise.
  2. Commitment to work constructively within ECI in pursuit of the best strategy and outcomes for the sector and for children.
  3. Experience in and knowledge of the sector.
  4. Ability to analyse, think strategically and see ‘the big picture’.
  5. Ability to articulate, using evidence and solid arguments.
  6. Previous experience in contributing successfully to Early Childhood Ireland’s work in a relevant area.
  7. An interest and expertise in particular areas (e.g. children with additional needs, qualifications, after-school provision, viability, etc.).
  8. A good balance of members, across a range of factors, including geographic regions, size, governance, types of setting and membership categories.

 

The closing date for this initial call is Thursday 26th May 2016.

If you are unsure about any aspect of this, feel free to contact Amy McArdle at Early Childhood Ireland, by email at amcardle@earlychildhoodireland.ie or by phone at 01-404-0645. 

If you apply to be a member of the panel, you will hear back from us by the 9th June.  Thank you for your interest. 

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