Better Start and County Childcare Committees
City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs) are the local "one stop shop" for Early Years education and care providers looking for information or support with Government funding schemes, quality development support, training or continuing professional development (CPD). They have information on a wide range of supports available to early years providers and are the first point of contact for the Better Start Quality Development Service. They undertake a profile of local services to ensure supports are tailored to their needs and interests.
The Better Start Quality Development Service operates an additional resource to support and drive quality improvement. Requests for the Quality Development Service are made through CCC’s, informed by service profiles - service type, number and age of children catered for, services offered (full day care, sessional preschool, after-school and so on). All requests for the Quality Development Service are sent from the County Childcare Committee to the Better Start Coordinating Team and processed centrally. Early Years Specialists will be allocated to the ECEC services on the basis of availability, skills and experience as far as possible matching the service profile.
In the first year, priority will be given to the larger, full day care services catering for 40+ children aged from birth to six years. This is to ensure that very young children spending more time in the services are afforded the best quality possible. Over time, the service will be made available to all ECEC providers who wish to avail of it.
What is Better Start?
Better Start Quality Development Service is an “on-site” mentoring service which supports providers in implementing the quality standards of Siolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education, and Aistear, The National Early Years Curriculum Framework. The Early Years Specialists will work in early childhood education and care settings, (full day care or pre-schools) with managers and staff to develop and implement quality development goals and actions based on the Siolta and Aistear frameworks.
These goals and actions will be focussed on prioritising the needs and interests of the children using the service. There is no charge for the Quality Development Service and it is flexible and adaptable. The Early Years Specialist will mentor staff in implementing their plans over an agreed time period. The service is flexible and adaptable to work within the demands and constraints of a busy early childhood education and care service.
If a provider is interested in receiving the Better Start Quality Development Service, they should contact Offaly CCC who will request the service from Better Start on their behalf. If the Better Start Quality Development Service can respond to the request, an Early Years Specialist will arrange to visit the service. She/he will discuss with the service, the aspects of practice they would like to work on. The Early Years Specialist will work with the manager and staff to make a joint assessment of the service using the Aistear and Síolta Practice Guide. On completion of the joint assessment, goals and plans to develop quality will be agreed and timeframes for the delivery of the service will be set. The Early Years Specialist will usually be assigned to work with the service for 6 months. The frequency of visits and quality goals to be achieved are jointly agreed. She/he will work with individual staff and the staff team. It is helpful if the service can assign one staff member to be the Quality Liaison Person to be the contact for the Early Years Specialist during the process.