Transformation in Dublin inner-city childcare and education centre

5 October 2009

  • Refurbished centre an example of best practice

St. Joseph's Early Childhood Care and Education Centre, situated in the inner city of Dublin, has been given a new lease of life, with the support of a range of organisations including colleagues in DIT Department of Social Sciences and their graduates.

St. Joseph’s Early Childhood Care Education Centre

The vision for this centre, which is funded by the HSE, is to develop a service where “each child is valued and nurtured, where the children are offered the opportunity to holistically grow and develop within a warm, caring play environment, with adults who recognise, respect, follow and build on their needs and interests.”  The rebuilding project, which was completed in June 2009, has provided the perfect environment in which to put this vision into practice on a daily basis.


Historically, St. Joseph's was opened in 1955 by The Civics Institute of Ireland. It was the first purpose built centre of its kind and very innovative for its time, providing a much needed service to the children of the area. In 1985, the centre was taken over by The First Steps Trust Ltd., also a registered charity, which continues to operate it to this day. Over the years, as services for children progressed and as regulations were introduced governing their delivery, the centre adapted its service to meet those requirements and has built up a reputation as a centre where children and families could expect a high level of services at all times.


According to Denise Doyle, the Manager of the Centre, “Throughout this period, a strong and lasting relationship was built up with DIT and each year a number of students are accepted for placements as part of the BA in Early Childhood Education programme. This has proved to be a very beneficial relationship and a high percentage of the centre staff have been on placement with us while they were students. Indeed, it was as a result of a "quality audit report" carried out by a staff member while studying on the BA (Hons.) in Early Childhood Education Progression programme that the basis of our present rebuild was founded.”

While the service itself continued to be of a very high standard, the building itself fell into some disrepair, mainly due to lack of funding. It took a long number of years for The First Steps Trust to accumulate sufficient funding to take on the huge task of bringing the build up to its present day standard. With the help of Dublin City Council, the National Childcare Investment Programme, the National Lottery and Fairyhill Charity, this was finally achieved in 2008. The rebuild took 9 months from start to finish, during which time the service operated out of temporary accommodation provided by Dublin City Council.


The result of these efforts can be seen in the “before” and “after” photographs below. The service is now operating out of a modern building which offers a caring and stimulating environment to the children and an enjoyable place of work for the staff.  Expressing enthusiasm for the future, Ms Doyle said “We look forward to the challenges ahead, working together as a team to implement our new curriculum based on Síolta quality standards and Aistear early years curriculum. Within these changes the service will be happy to continue the long and successful relationship with DIT and much appreciate the support provided by college staff and students over the past long number of years.”

The Centre before refurbishment





  • Denise Doyle, Manager.
  • Máire Mhic Mhathúna, Head of Department of Social Sciences, DIT.
  • Jimmie Robinson: photographs.

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