Unequal access to early education services for a large population of children in Ireland; key finding of DIT CSER Policy Report-

CSER awarded €250,000 for research in Irish Early Childhood Care and Education Policy -

Dublin, 31st May 2007: Inequity exists when it comes to access to early childhood education services for a large population of children in Ireland today. This is a key finding in a report looking at 10 years of early childhood care and education (ECCE) to be launched today by the Dublin Institute of Technology's Centre for Social and Educational Research (CSER). The report is based on the findings from the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy Seminar, entitled 'A Decade of Reflection - Early Childhood Care and Education: 1996 - 2006' held in DIT last November.

According to Dr Noirin Hayes, Director of the CSER; 'The seminar examined the potential offered through ECCE developments over the last 10 years and reviewed all aspects of ECCE policy for children aged from birth to six. Our key objectives were to examine how the policies affect the democratic rights of children including their access to services. We also wanted to raise awareness and generate debate around the topic of ECCE and advance collaboration amongst the key policy players.'

Key findings from the report show growth over the last decade in investment in early childhood care and education and an increase in number of places and settings; although demand still outstrips supply. However, there has been a limited resolution of problems of access and affordability with a large population of children who would benefit from early educational experiences unable to access them. Combined with the fact there has been limited development of a well-trained professional body to provide and maintain quality service the rights of children to quality early childhood education and care and thus their future development has been compromised.

Arising from their ongoing research, the CSER has been awarded research funding in the amount of €250,000, from the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) for a three year research project - 'Early Childhood Care and Education: Towards a Right Based Policy Approach.'

Whilst there has been substantial investment and financial incentives aimed at increasing childcare capacity, this has been driven by economic and demographic changes rather than as a response to the rights and needs of children themselves. On this basis the IRCHSS project responds to the need for 'detailed research is required to enable an integrated and co-ordinated response and ensure the needs of the diverse constituency of young children and their families in contemporary Ireland can be met.'

The research project will contribute to effective policy making, knowledge and practice in the field at national and international level, contribute to existent literature and inform a current research vacuum in terms of rights-based ECCE research, policy and practice. It will also make a substantial contribution to the interface between academic knowledge and policy formation. The research project will be conducted by senior academic staff and two PhD students from the DIT Centre for Social and Educational Research.

For further information or for a copy of the report 'A Decade of Reflection - Early Childhood Care and Education: 1996 - 2006':
Contact noirinhayes@dit.ie
 or siobhan.bradley@dit.ie  at the CSER, DIT, 23 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1.

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