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Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland

Review on Sector Quality

image of Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland

In supporting children’s development, countries invest in the future successes of economies and societies. Awareness of the critical role early childhood education and care (ECEC) plays in setting a strong foundation for children’s learning, development and well-being has grown among policy makers worldwide.

The OECD Quality beyond Regulations policy review provides countries with an overview of the different dimensions of quality in ECEC. It also highlights policies that can enhance process quality in particular. From this review, emerged the present report, taking an in-depth look at Ireland's ECEC system. It outlines the sector’s main strengths and challenges, focusing on workforce development and quality assurance through monitoring and inspections. The report provides tailored policy recommendations to improve provision in line with national goals.

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Executive summary

Ireland is currently pursuing a strong policy agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), with the adoption of a long-term Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families covering the period 2019 to 2028 (hereafter referred to as “First 5”). With this strategy, the country has committed itself to improving access, affordability and quality of ECEC provision. Related work and reforms are ongoing on the ECEC workforce, the funding system, home-based ECEC provision and governance of the sector. Implementing plans to increase public funding substantively in order to make ECEC more affordable for families, to strengthen the workforce and to support the policy agenda for quality improvement is an important step towards addressing the challenges of Ireland’s ECEC sector.

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