Offaly County Childcare Committee -   057 9135878

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Welcome to Offaly County Childcare Committee

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Offaly County Childcare Committee is located at St Joseph's Community Centre in Kilcormac, Co Offaly.

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Publication of Reports of Education-focused Inspection in Early-Years Settings participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme

The first reports of education-focused inspections in pre-schools participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme implemented by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs were published by the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills on the 30th June 2016.

These inspections examine the quality of pre-schools’ provision for children’s learning and report on the standards of young children’s learning in the early years’ settings. They provide information to parents about how well pre-schools are providing suitable learning experiences for young children and how well children’s needs are being met by pre-school staff. The clear, easy-to-read reports are available on the DES website, www.education.ie and on the DCYA website, www.dcya.ie

Since mid-April 2016, when the inspections began, a total of 182 pre-schools have been inspected. The inspections are being carried out by specialist early-years inspectors in the DES Inspectorate on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Education and Skills.

The early-years education-focused inspections are part of a range of steps being taken by both Departments to improve quality and standards in the early-years sector. As well as reporting on the quality of the provision in the pre-schools, the early-years’ inspectors advise staff in the pre-schools about how to improve their work with children. These education-focused inspections complement the regulatory inspections carried out by TUSLA, the regulatory body for early-years provision.

The inspections reflect the broad range of early-years settings delivering the ECCE programme. The reports describe many positive features of the pre-schools visited, including the strong commitment of pre-school staffs to deliver high quality education experiences for children. The reports also show the challenges facing the early-years sector, many of which need to be addressed through investment and capacity building. Some of these challenges include: inclusion of children from diverse backgrounds, fostering positive partnerships with parents and enabling smooth transitions from preschool to primary school.

Welcoming the announcement, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD said, “The Programme for Government commits to prioritising early years’ investment to reap a host of positive outcomes, including higher secondary school completion, employment rates and higher lifetime earnings. These measures underpin a targeted investment approach based on international best practice for young children. These inspections are part of a range of steps being taken by government to improve quality and standards in the early-years sector.”

Today’s announcement is a very positive development and one which parents in particular will welcome. Improving the quality of early years provision and providing accessible information to parents about schools and pre-schools is a priority for me.”

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD said "the Early Childhood Care and Education programme has transformed daily life for thousands of families, thanks to the dedication, hard work and skills of providers. I want to thank all who co-operated with the inspections which will ensure that we maintain the high level of service available while at the same time providing information to parents to allow them to make informed decisions when choosing pre-school for their children."

“These inspections will certainly support the other steps that I and my Department are taking to improve the opportunities for young learners at a very crucial stage of their learning and development” she added.

Link to Inspection Reports

 

More about the Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)

The model comprises of 7 levels, the County Childcare Committees are involved in levels 1-3 which are termed ‘universal supports’ and levels 4-7 provide more ‘targeted supports’. We are also delighted that this model has a dedicated website http://www.preschoolaccess.ie/ and more information on the 7 levels can be found on this website. Briefly please see below for some information on the levels.

Level 1- 3: Universal Supports under AIM 

A new Inclusion Charter has been developed for the early years sector. The purpose of the Charter is to demonstrate the sector’s commitment to inclusion. Service providers are invited to sign-up to this Charter by producing and publishing their own Inclusion Policy. More information at http://www.preschoolaccess.ie/ under ‘service providers’.

A new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in Early Years” or LINC, will commence in September 2016. It is a special purpose award at Level 6 it aims to equip participants with the knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies to support the participation of children with additional needs in early years settings. There is a dedicated website for this course http://lincprogramme.ie/ , applications will open on this website on Monday 20th of June and All candidates applying to the LINC programme must be nominated by their employer/setting. Graduates from the programme will be able to take on a new leadership role of Inclusion Co-ordinator within their pre-school setting which will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.

Finally, a broad multi-annual programme of formal and informal training for pre-school staff in relation to disability and inclusion will be funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will be delivered by the City and County Childcare Committee’s, in collaboration with the HSE and other agencies. Details of this training programme will be advertised on http://www.preschoolaccess.ie/ website and on your local City or County Childcare Committees website once available.

Level 4-7 – Targeted Supports Under AIM

Under level 4 Expert Educational Advice and Support, service providers can access a national service where specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities can provide expert advice, mentoring and support. To avail of this support, service providers, in partnership with parents, will be asked to complete an online Access and Inclusion Profile. A copy of the profile is available again under the ‘service providers’ page, Access and Inclusion Profile. Applications can be made at present and are open all year on PIP.

Under level 5 Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alterations, a national scheme is available to provide specialised equipment, appliances or capital grants towards minor building alterations, where these are necessary to support access and facilitate a child’s participation in pre-school. Applications for this scheme should be made by a service provider, in partnership with a parent. In all cases, a short report from a “designated professional” is required confirming that the specialised equipment or minor building alterations are necessary.  Further information can be found on the following link Relevant Documents.

Under level 6 Therapy services which are considered critical for a child’s participation in the Early Childhood Care and Education programme will be made available. Arrangements are in place with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to deliver this service and a number of additional therapy posts have been funded under the Access and Inclusion Model to support this service provision. To avail of level 6 support, service providers, in partnership with parents, should complete the Access and Inclusion Profile on PIP. 

Under Level 7: Additional Capitation Where the above supports are not sufficient to meet the needs of the child, service providers, in partnership with parents, can apply for additional capitation to fund extra support in the classroom or to enable the reduction of the staff to child ratio. Applications for level 7 additional capitation should be made by the service provider, in partnership with the parent, by completing the Access and Inclusion Profile (explained under level 4) and, within that profile, the level 7 service request.

Getting Started and Accessing Supports
Where a service provider has agreed to enrol a child in their service and consider that they will need additional support to meet the needs of the child in an inclusive way, service providers can, in partnership with the parent, apply for supports under AIM. The links with full details are on the website http://www.preschoolaccess.ie/. The application process is open and will remain open throughout the year.

A telephone support line is also available to you at the following (contact (01) 511 7222 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday) or e-mail support at (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Better Pre-School Access for Children with Disabilities ‘Access and Inclusion Model: AIM’ unveiled Minister Zappone urges Parents to apply

Children with disabilities will have better access to pre-school under a new programme of supports unveiled today (15th June 2016) by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD.

Announcing the new Access and Inclusion Model, or AIM, Minister Zappone said

“This is an important step to break-down barriers preventing children with disabilities from taking part in the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme.

Parents and pre-school providers who wish to avail of AIM should make their applications now so that they can plan for enrolments in September.

I am committed to working towards a more vibrant, inclusive and tolerant society which supports all children, equally, to realise their potential – today we have taken another important step to achieve that.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath TD, warmly welcomed the launch of the AIM model. In particular, he emphasised the significant work which has been undertaken on a cooperative basis between the health, children and education sectors in order to make this a reality. The Minister of State is looking forward to a continuation of this collaborative approach, ensuring that children with disabilities can enjoy an inclusive and meaningful pre-school experience.
AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, depending on the needs of the child and the pre-school. It is being introduced from today to allow parents and pre-school providers to apply for supports and plan ahead for September enrolments. A range of different initiatives are being launched as part of the model as follows:

Ø In order to foster an inclusive culture, the Minister has published a new Inclusion Charter for the Early Years sector, alongside updated and strengthened Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education. A programme of training on the guidelines will now be rolled out nationally over the coming months.

Ø Applications will open this week for a new higher education programme for early years practitioners (LINC) which will commence this September. The LINC programme is being delivered by a consortium, led by Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, together with Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University and Early Childhood Ireland. Development and design of the programme was financed by the Department of Education and Skills from dormant accounts funding, while the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will fund up to 900 places per annum on the programme. Graduates from the programme will be able to take on a new leadership role of Inclusion Co-ordinator within their pre-school setting which will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting. This programme is part of a broader package of education and training supports to upskill the early years workforce in relation to inclusion and disability.

Ø A new national specialist service is open for business from today. Through this service, which is based in the Better Start National Early Years Quality Development Service, expert advice, mentoring and support is available to pre-school providers from a team of 50 specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities.

Ø A new national scheme is open from Friday, 24th June providing specialised equipment, appliances and minor alterations which are necessary to support a child’s participation in the ECCE programme.

Ø A new national scheme is open from this Friday, 17th June providing additional capitation to pre-school providers where this is critical to fund extra support in the classroom and enable a child’s participation in pre-school. It is estimated that only 1 to 1.5% of children in pre-school will require, and therefore be eligible for, this scheme of additional capitation.

Ø A new dedicated website on AIM is being launched today. This contains comprehensive information on the model and on how to apply for the new schemes and supports. The website also contains the new Inclusion Charter and Guidelines, as well as a range of other resources.

Access and Inclusion Model - Information and Contact Leaflet

Access Inclusion Model Website

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education in DCU

This course will equip you to lead education and care provision for children in the age-range birth to six years. You will be prepared for a wide range of early education settings. Working with young children is a challenging, yet very rewarding, career - our BECE degree will help you to be successful by developing your knowledge, competencies and understanding of:

- children's wellbeing, development and learning (birth to six years);
key national frameworks such as Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum;
- your professional responsibilities;
- the wider social and legislative context and its impact on children and families;
- how best to work, communicate and build relationships with children, parents, colleagues and other professionals

More details about the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education programme can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlZEf5pYP34

Visit us on:

Website:       www.dcu.ie
Facebook:     www.facebook.com/DCU
Twitter:        https://twitter.com/DublinCityUni
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/dublincityuniversity/

 

New Early Years Regulations 2016

Thanks to Canavan & Byrne for this update on the Early Years Regulations 2016


Updated Tips on New Early Years Regulations 2016

1.      The new Regulations come into force on 30th June 2016.

  1. You will need to make changes to your policies. Where the old Regulations are referenced change to Child Care Act 1991 [Early Years Services] Regulations 2016.
  2. The phrase ‘Preschool Services’ should be changed to ‘Early Years Services’.
  3. If you are setting up a service the notice period to Tusla is three months [21 days for temporary services
  4. All persons associated with your service need Garda Vetting [the owner, the person in charge, employees, unpaid workers, members of Boards of Directors and contractors]
  5. If a person has lived outside the jurisdiction for six consecutive months Police Vetting from the country or countries of residence will apply. This has cleared up a lot of confusion regarding living outside of Ireland.
  6. You need to have a written policy on how you deal with disclosures if they come back on Garda Vetting forms. What this means is you risk manage the situation. Is the disclosure putting children or your business at risk? You need clear criteria in assessing this risk. This could be referenced in your Recruitment Policy if you don’t have a Garda Vetting policy.
  7. Two validated references are required for persons working in early years services. This is also now extended to two validated references for Directors. For registration post-30th June.
  8. If references are not available from the last employer they must be from a person of authority/”reputable sources”
  9. Insurance cover must include all aspects of your service as listed in the new Regulations for example outings. This is dependent on what services a provider is offering.
  10. The Regulations list the information that would be contained on the Register which will be available for the public to view. Any changes to these details must be notified to Tusla sixty days in advance. This may have implications for services as this Register will contain the name of the person in charge. It may be prudent to extend notice periods on contracts of employment for this persons at this level. However, the Regulations does allow for extenuating circumstances.
  11. There should be a designated named person and a deputy in all services and one of these needs to be on the premises at all times “during the period when the pre-school service is being carried on”.
  12. If you are a single handed provider you need to have somebody in close proximity that you can call on at all times. You need to be sure that if this is ‘tested’ during an Inspection the person will be able to respond in a very timely manner.
  13. You need to make sure that you have clear management structures and identify lines of accountability and authority. This means you need clear written documentation of “who is responsible for what”. You will need to ensure that all persons have good, robust, clear job descriptions including Boards of Directors.
  14. As we expected the qualifications requirement regarding Level 5 and Level 6 come into effect in December 2016. Level 6 qualification is not a regulatory requirement. Post- June 30th registrants must have Level 5 qualifications from date of registration.
  15. If a person is not qualified you need to have an official grandfathering declaration on file for them if this is applicable
  16. The Regulations sets out some new retention periods for different types of records for example:
  • Child record/accidents and incidents/medicine records/staff rosters and attendance details – 2 years after the child ceases to attend the service
  • Garda Vetting record – 5 years from when the person commences working

Note: These are minimum periods of retention. Services need to use their own judgement in certain circumstances. For example if a child has had an accident, or severe behavioural issues, or other relevant circumstances it may be prudent to keep records for longer.

18. Now is the time to get your Parent Handbook because the Regulations specifies the information that must be shared with parents:

  • The name, position and qualification of every employee, unpaid worker and contractor in the service. If you are wondering what they mean by contractor this would be for example if you use the services of Gymboree, Playball, Drama/Music Teachers etc.
  • Details of the category of service registered.
  • Type of care programme provided
  • Facilities available
  • Opening Hours and Fees
  • Policies and Procedures

19. No access to the internet or no children to be photographed or recorded unless pre-permissions are signed. This has implications for group events as you now have a legal responsibility to ensure that parents do not breach this for example at your end of year graduation.

20. All services need to have access to daily outdoor space. This also applies to sessional services. This regulation is for post-June 30th registrants. Existing Full day care services, Part-time day care services or a Childminding service must either have a suitable outdoor space on the premises, or have access to a suitable outdoor space. Existing Sessional and Temporary pre-school services must ensure that if they provide access to an outdoor space, that the space is safe and suitable.

21. There should be no more than twenty two children in any room. This really applies to your preschool. This is the case for sessional pre-school services, but they are excluded from this regulation if they contemporaneously run a sessional pre-school service, and a “full day care service or a part-time day care service”, or both.

22. A number of incidents are now reportable to Tusla:

  • An outbreak of an infectious disease
  • A serious injury that requires medical intervention
  • A child going missing

23. The Regulations provide a list of the essential policies and procedures. What is most important is that these policies and procedures are known and understood by all members of staff. You are required to have trained staff in these policies and procedures and have evidence that this has been done. Get all staff to sign off on these policies and keep in their individual personnel files. This should be done anytime you update/review a policy and procedure. See list of required policies below.

24. You will need to have a Health & Safety Statement as it understood under the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act, 2005.

25. Risk assessing your service is now a legal requirement. This covers the evaluation of hazards in the building indoors and outdoors, outings, staff [references, Garda vetting, international police check, official identification on file, CV with no gaps], security and safety.

26. There is a schedule at the back of the Regulations that sets out requirements for registration to include all the areas that we are familiar with in relation to space, adult/ratios. Some changes noted here are:

  • A clear space of 1.818sq metres of clear floor space for a child attending a sessional service.
  • The ratio for the age group 2.5 to 6 years, for sessional services, has changed and is now 1:11.
  • Check all your floor spaces again as the new Regulations refer now to ‘Clear Floor Space’

Policies & Procedures Listed in New Regulations

There are some guidelines provided on what the key policies should contain. You should note that these are minimum requirements and depending on your service you will have to add to these if necessary. For example if you have animals you need an animal policy, if you have CCTV you need a CCTV policy. Also there are policies required under other legislation – employment.

  • Statement of Purpose and Function
  • Complaints
  • Administration of Medication
  • Infection Control
  • Managing Behaviour [Supporting Positive Behaviour]
  • Safe Sleep
  • Fire Safety
  • Inclusion
  • Outings [where children attending the service are brought on outings]
  • Accidents and Incidents
  • Authorisation to collect Children
  • Healthy Eating
  • Outdoor Play [where such play is provided to children attending the service]
  • Overnight Services [where the service is an overnight preschool service]
  • Staff Absences
  • Internet, Photographic and Recording Devices Use
  • Recruitment
  • Risk Management
  • Settling-in
  • Staff Training
  • Supervision

Supporting Quality Childcare in Offaly

Offaly County Childcare Committee support the development of quality, affordable, inclusive, accessible childcare and family friendly services for all children in every part of the county.

Offaly County Childcare Committee has been meeting since May 2001 and is made up of representatives from the statutory sector, social partners, community groups, voluntary groups, the Community and Voluntary Forum, National Voluntary Children's Organisations, providers of childcare, and parents - all of whom have a vested interest in childcare provision in the county.

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