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Historical Development of the Early Childcare Essay

a) History and current status of childcare provision in Ireland

During the early Twentieth century in Ireland there was a lack of job opportunities for women in the workforce. Women were still seen largely seen as the ‘stay at home figure’. Due to this environmental impact, children were cared for in their own homes mainly by their mothers. Therefore there was less of a demand in the Early Childcare Education sector. This ended when children started attending Primary school. During the latter part of the Twentieth century, during the times of the Celtic Tiger, the number of job opportunities for women in the workforce escalated. This resulted in an increase in urbanisation and a decrease in family support. For example: Families lived further apart from each other, and as a result, it did not make sense to leave the children with their grandmother or other family members due to financial restrictions such as the price of fuel, or time restrictions such as the length of time taken to leave the children from one destination to the other.

This lead to parents seeking the childminding services privately or within their local area. Statistics have shown that approximately 60% of children under six years of age attended a form of childcare service at this time. (Class Notes) There was a substantial increase in the demand for both private and community childcare services. In response to the rapidly increasing demand for childcare service, it was deemed necessary that an ‘Expert Working Group on Childcare’ was formed. The Expert Working Group came together and arranged a meeting to discuss ways to resolve the upcoming problems within the childcare services sector. They held discussions on how to make childcare services more readily available and accessible to families in Ireland. It was recognized at this point, that there was a need to develop a ‘National Strategy’ to assist them with the transformation of the current childcare services sector.

Thus, a National Strategy was developed and was published in 1999. The National strategy recognized and contained the following principles: ‘The Needs and the rights of the child, Equality of access and participation, Diversity, Partnership and Quality’ (Class Notes Page 2) It also contained suggestions and advice on support for parents/guardians, Laws relating childcare, Qualifications, Employment, Planning and Co-ordination. In 2002, the Centre for Early childhood development and Education was established. This centre was set up to develop standards and to improve the childcare sector. The Centre for early Childhood Development and Education aimed to ensure that every childcare setting (whether it was a Full-time / Part-time service or a Public / Private service); met the criteria and quality standards that that were established by the Centre. The main objective of the Centre for Early childhood development and Education was to focus on improving more disadvantaged areas as well as the more advantaged areas so as to ensure that all areas within the childcare sector offered the same quality of services In 2006, ‘Siolta’ was launched. Siolta was set up to implement the first aim of the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education which was to develop the current standards within the childcare sector.

This was called ‘The National Quality Framework for Early Education’. This ensured that there was support in improving quality across all childcare services which contained children from 0-6 years of age. Further to this, in 2009, a new scheme was introduced within the Childcare sector. The Early Childcare Education scheme ‘Free pre-school place’ was formed. The free pre-school place enabled children within the age range of 3 years and 3 months and 4 years 6 months in September of the relevant year to engage in one free academic year within a full time or seasonal service. If a childcare service/ centre wanted to take part in the Early Childcare Education scheme, the criteria set out by Siolta had to be met and furthermore the Principles set by An Siolta would have to be implemented within their current childcare setting.

It is important to recognize that this is the first time that Early childhood education has received any direct Universal funding. As a result of the free pre-school place initiative, the demand within the childcare sector continued to grow. (Siolta) More recent developments within the childcare sector include the introduction of a new initiative called ‘Aistear’, which was established by the Department of Education and Skills through NCCA in 2010. Aistear from the Irish word meaning ‘journey’, is of relevant importance to childcare settings where children from the ages of 0-6 years receive their care and education. Aistear works closely alongside Siolta and consists of an informal curriculum that contains twelve principles and themes that give guidance to the childcare worker. Aistear recognizes that education and care are not separate within the childcare sector and they aim to help children grow and develop independently.(Aistear)

b) Current range of childcare provision in Ireland

Six types of services that can be categorised under sessional and fulltime services are: NaÍonraÍ – A NaÍonraÍ is a sessional service. It organises and communicates with the playgroup through the medium of Irish, they recognise each child as individuals. The service doesn’t put pressure on children to speak Irish, they still encourage and support children either way. As the children are surrounded in Irish they will gradually pick up and learn the language in their own time. The service is recognised by Forbairt NaÍonraÍ. Parent and toddler groups – This is a sessional service and is supported by Early Childhood Ireland. Parents and their children/toddlers meet in one area, often held in one of the parent houses who are taking part in the service. It gives children the opportunity to gain the experience of interacting with others, therefore promoting and developing the child’s social skills. It also gives parents the opportunity to interact with other parents, gaining support of each other. Montessori pre-schools – The pre-school is usually privately run, it develops its curriculum around the methods of Dr Maria.

The Montessori focuses mainly on the child’s educational development, its curriculum is therefore more practical based, isn’t fully focused on play. This action of purely practical based education may be scrutinised by certain individuals as it thought by some theorists that children should experience and develop through the experience of play at this young age. The pre-school functions on academic year and mainly cares for children from three to six years of age. Home and community playgroups – Home and community playgroups care for children within the age range of 2 and a half to five years of age, they operate in either a home or community basis. Home playgroups are generally privately funded where as community playgroups receive funding from the government, each service usually opens and runs for a period of three to four hours each day. The service highlights and develops children’s social and emotional learning through play.

Crèches, Nurseries and Day care services – These services are recognised as a fulltime service and cater for children from the age of approximately three months to five years of age. They are open at a minimum of eight hours a day and usually provide a day-to-day curriculum. The services can be privately or publicly run, an increase in demand for these services greatly increased after the Free Pre-School Year was introduced. Each service provides the children attending the service with a hot meal and snacks during the duration of the day. Each service helps met the child’s safety, welfare and developmental needs.

They also help children make the best of their abilities, whether that be through play or practical learning. Family Day Care – Children are looked after in the childminders home. There is no specific age group that Family Day Care caters for, they can cater for all different age groups at once in the same facility. The hours that the carer caters for the children is arranged between the child’s parent and the carer. The children become easily settled in this form of day care as they are only interacting and building a relationship with one adult with the service. The children are provided with snacks and possibly hot meals, depending on the length of time the child is attending the service. The service is supported and recognised by Childminding Ireland.

c) Current range of roles in childcare support organisations and agencies Health Service Executive (HSE) – is the first service contacted when there is a serious concern involving a child safety or family issue , the Health Service Executive then has the responsibility of bringing services and agencies together to help resolve the concerned matter. The Health Service Executive provides services that helps protect and support children, parents/guardians and families. There are many roles within the Health Service Executive, they include: Family support worker – The Family support worker offers support and supplies services to family’s going through emotionally distressing times. The Family Support Worker tries to keep families remained together unless there is a family member deemed at serious risk if kept together. Some of the services that The Family Support Worker will supply to the family to try help resolve the issues are, “Parenting Skills, Confidence and Personal Development, Home Care management, Diet, Nutrition and Health Care, Budgeting and family Finance”. (Class notes page 4)

Community Childcare Worker – The Community Childcare Worker works alongside professionals to give support to children who are in disadvantaged families, deemed at risk, deprived or in care. The Community Childcare Worker also helps children deal with or come to an understanding of why they are in that care home. Social Worker – works with problematic families and individuals, The Social Worker helps resolve problems in families whether that is emotional, behavioural or social problems.

Social Workers also deal with problems such as child abuse, domestic violence, and adoption. Before removing children from their home and separating families social worker s have to prove that they have gave families every option possible, if the family /parents does not comply with any of the options, the matter continues to rise and the child/children are still recognised at risk then the case is taken to court and assessed by a Judge whether the child/children should be removed from the family home, thus action is seen as a last resort.

Barnardos – Barnardos is Ireland’s biggest children’s charity. It is focused on working with children and families on, whether that be group work or one-on-one interaction. Barnardos help children make the best of their abilities when going through difficult situations, such as neglect, abuse, or poverty. They provide a range of services to help families through distressing time’s i.e counselling, and bereavement help lines. Barnardos also protest against Government laws that affect children and their way of living e.g. child benefit cuts.

d) Six National Childcare organisations

Barnardos – Barnardos is Ireland’s biggest children’s charity, it is mainly focused on working with children and families. Barnardos provide a range of services to help assist and support families through distressing times, they also help children make the best of their abilities whilst going through or have gone through difficult times e.g. neglect. Childminding Ireland- is a registered Charity and was created in 1986. It was created by a small group of childminders that further grew into a bigger organisation. The organisation promotes home-based childcare. Forbairt NaÍonraÍ Teoranta – is a voluntary organisation which supports education and care for children from birth who are brought up in Irish. St.Nicholas Montessori Society of Ireland – Provide opportunities for Montessori teachers to further their profession.

They also offer help, support and give guidance for Montessori teachers. The Irish Society for the prevention of Children’s Cruelty – Provide a 24hour support service for children who are going through a difficult situations. States that id high quality childcare service wants to keep their service high quality, then the service must ensure that there is good child protection within the facility. The organisation also recognises children are individuals and therefore the child’s right s and values should be supported. Border Counties Childcare Network – Is a network that services in counties such as Monaghan, Meath, Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim in helping deliver a childhood service of high quality.

LO4: Clear explanation the rights of the child in the context of an ECCE setting.

A) Examine the UN convention on the Rights of the Child.

The UN convention on the Rights of the Child has 54 articles. These fifty-four articles are a written list of the different types of the child’s rights, if those rights are intentionally broken it is seen as breaking the law. The UN convention on the Rights of the child can be broken into four broad areas, these four areas are – Survival, Development, Protection and Participation. Survival – The child has a right to life and the right to the basic requirements to survive life e.g. food, water, shelter, clothing, medical aid.

Development – The child has a right to education, religion, play, develop the identification of right and wrong and leisure. The child also has the right to be provided with a safe environment to develop these skills and knowledge. Protection – The child has the right to be protected against abuse and neglect. If a child has come in interference with and suffered from abuse then the child has the right to some form of counselling to come to an understanding and overcome the traumatic situation. Participation – The child has the right to join organisations e.g. clubs, groups, freedom of expression and speech.

Standard 1: Right of the child.
“Ensuring that each child’s rights are met, requires that she/he is enabled to exercise choice and to use initiative as an active participant and partner in her/his own development and learning.” (Siolta page 13)

Component 1.1 – Choice for the child
Practitioners could put component 1.1 into practice at meal time. By giving the child the options at meal time, this could be achieved by giving the child the choice of two different meals therefore enabling the child to make its own choices. If a child decides they do not want to eat at meal time the practitioner should respect the child’s decision. By having different utensils available at meal time e.g. chopsticks, this provides choice for the child. The child can then make the choice on what they want to eat there meal with.

Component 1.2 – Use initiative
A practitioners could put component 1.2 into practice with a child from twelve – thirty-six months by providing the opportunity of letting the child out on its coat independently, enabling the child to zip or button the coat. The practitioner should talk the child through the process, encourage the child as she/he is trying to overcome and accomplish the task and support the child if he/she comes into difficulty.

Component 1.3 – active participants
A practitioner could put component 1.3 into practice with a child from birth to eighteen months by viably communicating. While/when the practitioner is changing the child’s nappy he/she could viably communicate to the child and make eye contact whilst changing its nappy. The practitioner could also sing nursery rhymes and act out movements to the child e.g. three little pigs, touching the child’s toes whilst singing the rhyme. This makes the child feel comfortable and an active participant throughout the activity.

LO2: Detained description of the qualifications and experience needed for work associated with one occupation in the ECCE sector.

a) Outline legislations, policies, practices and procedures pertaining to ECCE provision.

Childcare Act 1991
Provides asset of rules relating to children/young adults under the age of eighteen in Ireland, it governs the care and protection of children in Ireland. (Classnotes) Due to this legislation the Health Service Executive has a mandatory duty to promote and protect the wellbeing of all children under this act. Children who are being abused or at risk, this Act allows those children to be removed or be placed under the care of the Health Service Executive. In relation to preschool services the Act is consulted with when rules and regulations are being drawn up for the supervision of children of pre-school services.

Under the Act the pre-school carers have a responsibility and duty to implement safety and wellbeing of children under their pre-school setting. If the pre-school carer has concern for a child’s safety health it is their responsibility to notify the Health Service Executive. If a new pre-school setting is being set up or is intending to set up the local Health Service Executive must be notified. The Health Service Executive then has a duty to inspect the pre-school setting to ensure the health and safety standards of the setting are being met. The rules and regulations drawn up from the Act must be strictly followed by the practitioners. Childcare (preschool services) Regulations 2006

The regulation outlines the standards that a preschool setting of any form must put/have in place before it can commence e.g. all forms of health, safety and welfare of the setting must be put in place to ensure full safety of the child is being met. It is the Health Service Executive’s duty for inspecting and giving a report of information on pre-schools of any sort or kind who care for children from the age of zero-six years of age. The regulation is arranged in six parts – thirty-three regulations and can be broadly covered over the following areas: “Health, welfare and development of the child

Notification and inspection by the Health Service Executive Record keeping
Standard of premises and facilities
General administration” (class notes)
Policies and procedures must be drawn up and developed from these points.

Children First 1999

Children First was first made available in the year 1999 but was later replaced with Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011. The general rule of the document was left unchanged but acknowledges past inspections and reports and feedback, due to this the document had been edited to set out distinctive guidelines that individual roles should take is concerned for a child’s health, safety and welfare. Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011 main aims are to ensure children’s health safety and welfare are being constantly met.

That society are aware that they should not assume but should report any concerns regarding a child’s health and safety and realise that it is their responsibility to put this action into place. The legislation provides advise/support for parents/guardians in regards to their role as a parent/carer. Inspections made by the ‘Department of Education and Science’ will take place through-out schools of all sorts to reinforce and ensure that the new legislation is being enforced.


Siolta is made up of twelve principals, sixteen standard and seventy-five components. The twelve principals provide the base of the frame work. Without the principals the components wouldn’t be able to be put in place. The principals give direction for childcare workers on how they should carry out their work in an Early Childhood Care and Education environment, how to interact and communicate with children and fillies, how subjects should be taught and how the services that the childcare worker works in should be organised. The twelve principles contain: Equality – is a necessary aspect to have in a childcare setting, it is essential every child feels equal. Diversity- Every childcare setting should recognise that each child comes from very different backgrounds. It is the childcares settings responsibility to confirm that they understand, respect and accommodate this with visual aids e.g. posters, dolls from different ethnic backgrounds, chopsticks in the home area ect.

Environment- The physical layout of the setting should be organised to meet, encourage and develop the child’s abilities so the child can reach their full potential. Welfare- The child’s health, safety and welfare is essential and should be met as much as it possibly can be e.g. if a child has chicken pock’s, that child should be removed to a room where no other children are present the child’s parents should be contacted and the child shouldn’t return until it has cleared to prevent it infecting other children. The role of the adult- The adult working in the setting has a responsibility to make sure the child is making the most of their experience and are reaching full potential while in that adults company. Teamwork-Good communication and respect should be shown and practised in settings between the various workers in the setting.

If there isn’t respect among workers, there won’t be good teamwork skills therefore the children present in that company will pick up on the negative energy and put what they have picked up on into practice. Pedagogy- The study and theory of the methods and principals of teaching should be put in place in early childhood care and education through holistic play, as this is the most appropriate method of learning for children of that age range. Play-Should be promoted, as it is an essential part in a child’s development whether that be physical or theory learning. Sioltas sixteen standards are essential and necessary in services as it give guidance for workers within the service, IT gives guidance on how to act, provide and develop services with the setting.

The standards contain various elements such as the various elements such as the child’s rights to the legislation and regulation. It’s from the sanders that the seventy-five components are made up. The components help meet the standard. Without the sixteen standards and seventy-five components the knowledge of the twelve principals wouldn’t be able to be put in place as effectively. Siolta was created to improve the way childcare is taught, organised, carried out and viewed in the Early Childhood Care and Education settings who cater for children from the age range of birth to six years of age. It “defines, assess and supports” these improvements. Early Childhood Care and Education settings and services taking part in the free school year must implement Siolta, making more demand for the service. (siolta)

Aistear, was established by the Department of Education and Skills through NCCA in 2010. Aistear from the Irish word meaning ‘journey’, is of relevant importance to childcare settings where children from the ages of 0-6 years receive their care and education. Aistear works closely alongside Siolta and consists of an informal curriculum that contains twelve principles and themes that give guidance to the childcare worker. Aistear recognizes that education and care are not separate within the childcare sector and they aim to help children grow and develop independently. (Aistear)

The manager
The manager is required to have a minimum level 7/8 qualification in childcare, they have to manage the day-to-day routine of the preschool setting, ensuring that the developmental needs, safety and wellbeing of each individual child are being met. The manager may also be required to work unsocial hours and must attend to relevant meetings. The manager also has the responsibility to ensure the child protection policy is being implemented within the setting, recording and concerns and also ensuring high sanders of safety are being maintained at all times. (Class notes)

The Childcare assistant
The Childcare assistant is required to have a minimum of a level 5 qualification in childcare and previous experience is required. They assist in the day-to-day organisation and preparation of the childcare setting. The Childcare assistant must maintain all personal information of the individual children as confidential and at times have to work unsocial hours. The assistant must ensure the children within their care are receiving high standards of care, safety and wellbeing whilst also ensuring the developmental need of the children are being met accurately. The Childcare Assistant will have to at times participate in fundraising activities, special events and outings. They must strictly follow the Child Protection policy and report any concerns. (class notes)

The Playgroup Leader
The Playgroup Leader is required to have a minimum of a level 5 qualification in childcare and previous experience in childcare is required. The Playgroup Leader is required to manage the day-to-day routine of the playgroup. The playgroup leader has the responsibility to ensure the safety, wellbeing and developmental needs of the children are being continually being met. They must keep all personal information regarding the children within the service, children’s family and staff strictly confidential. Must strictly follow and promote the Child Protection Policy, ensuring high standers of hygiene and quality are being promoted within the setting. Organise regular meetings with parents throughout the year. Must regularly carry out appraisal on the staff’s performance, make sure all staff and volunteers have guard vetting. Must try to obtain good staff more and show respect to other staff members.

Special Needs Assistant
A Special Needs Assistant must have a minimum level5 qualification in childcare. Must ensure that all personal information regarding children or staff they work with remains confidently then it should be reported. Must strictly follow the Child Protection Act and make sure the developmental needs of the child are being met. The assists are recruited to help assist and support children with special needs or difficult behaviour problems in schools. The assistants engage regularly with the parents of the special needs child, they also participate in fundraising activities, special events and outings to further help the child or children with special needs.

Montessori teacher
Must have a minimum level5 qualification in childcare. Must strictly follow the Child Protection Act and make sure the developmental needs of the child are being met, ensuring high standards of hygiene and quality are being promoted within the setting. A Montessori has the responsibly to provide opportunities for children so they can figure out how to do something for themselves. Must observe children within the setting and comment on their development. They provide challenging tasks for the children, so they make the best of their abilities. Organise meetings with the parents throughout the year.

Detailed description of the qualifications and experience needed for work associated with on occupation in the ECCE sector.

One occupation in the Early Child Care and Education sector I have chose to further evaluate on is the pre-school manager. The pre-school manager has many roles and responsibilities such as: Being strictly confidential within and outside the Early Childhood Care and Education setting in relaxation to keeping personal information about the children, their family and also the staff. Ensuring when planned activities are taking place that each individual child’s developmental needs are being met. Making sure that every area and all facilities of the Early Childhood Care and Education setting are being met to Sioltas standards. Has the role of preparing and creating curriculum plans for the staff to carry out in the Early Childhood Care and Education setting.

Making sure that there is good staff morale, resolving any issues that arise promptly and effectively Making sure that there the Child Protection policy is being promoted and that the policy is being firmly stuck to. If any concerns are arisen then the manager must document and record this. Organise meetings with parents throughout the year to inform them and discuss such things as the child’s progression and also adhering to any concerns raised by the parents. It is also a role and responsibility of the manager to prepare and organise special event and outings for the children attending the Early Childhood Care and Education setting. ( class notes)

The preschool manager must have a minimum qualification of level of seven/eight in childcare.\This qualification can be obtained in most IT’s. The duration of study that it would take to obtain this would be approximately three to four years depending on the level of qualification. To then further become a pre-school manager the level of experience the individual would need to have would depend on the Early Childhood Care and Education setting. Generally the minimum experience needed by the individual would be approximately two – four years. It would be appropriate that the individual had experience as a supervisor before becoming a pre-school manager.

Employment and Career Opportunities in Childcare

Funding that is made available to state to childcare services, such as the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme, the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme / Free Pre-School year and Community Childcare Solovention scheme make the option of childcare services more appealing and therefore increase the demand for childcare services. As a result of the increased demand for childcare services, the demand for employment opportunities also increases.

The Early Childhood care and Education Scheme / Free Pre-school year (FPSY) was introduced in 2009. The scheme recognized the importance of qualifications within the childcare sector and as a result it introduced a minimum qualifications standard for pre-school leaders. An important feature of the scheme is that it offers more funding for better qualified staff and because of this feature it can increase or decrease an individual’s employment opportunities e.g. if an individual applied for a particular position in which the state requires the potential employee to hold a Level 7 qualification, and the candidate did not hold a Level 7 qualification, that candidate will most likely not get the position as a result as their employment would not benefit the pre-school.

The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme is a support scheme that was set up to aid and support non-profit childcare services/centres. This scheme does not support profit childcare services. The schemes main focus is to help the non-profit childcare services. This scheme allows non-profit childcare services to provide their services at a lower rate, which enables children with disadvantaged parents the opportunity to attend childcare services.

Each Community based service that takes part in the Community Childcare scheme, has the responsibility to make a guideline available of the different rates for each type of service that they offer to parents. There are four types of fee rates available; and the parent/guardian will be offered the rate depending on what price band or category they fall into based on their individual financial situation. This scheme enables more access to all types of parents and therefore increases the demand for childcare services and effectively increases employment opportunities.

Special Needs Assistant – Due to the downturn in the Irish Economy, there have been substantial cuts in Special Needs Assistants. It has been revealed that approximately 1200 Special needs assistant positions will be cut in the near future. (Class notes) If this happens, there will be a sharp decrease in the amount of employment opportunities available within the childcare sector. It is also thought that as a result of the cuts, individuals that currently hold a Level 7/8 qualification may not be willing to apply for job opportunities that become available due to the poor pay conditions and low status of the childcare positions.

Progression of qualifications within the childcare sector e.g. achieving a Level 5 and progressing to a Level 6, Level 7 and Level 8 qualification is becoming more important to childcare workers to help them increase their employment opportunities. The better the qualification that a childcare worker obtains means they have a higher chance of securing employment within the childcare sector. E.g. If an advertisement is published in a newspaper for a childcare position, and an individual that holds a Level 5 applies while also an individual what holds a Level 8 qualification also applies, the individual with the higher qualification i.e. the Level 8 qualification, will have a higher chance of getting the position.

After obtaining a Level 8 qualification i.e. A Degree in childcare, which is generally obtained over a three year period, there is a career opportunity to continue to study towards a Primary school teaching qualification. A further two years of study in Teacher training is also required before obtaining a qualification as a Primary school teacher.

After achieving a minimum of a Level 7/8 qualification, there is also the opportunity to become a manager within a childcare setting. An individual seeking to further their career or who wishes to pursue a career in management would also need sufficient experience within the early childcare and education setting to secure a higher position. This career opportunity can only become available for the individual if they have obtained a Level 7/8 qualification.

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