Donegal County Childcare, a local not for profit agency that works for promotion and sustainability of over 150 early childhood care and education services in County Donegal, has this week welcomed the announcement by Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs that during 2012 her Department, will develop a National Early Years Strategy.
Donegal County Childcare Manager, Avril Sweeney, said today: “This announcement is yet another momentous step forward for the early childhood care and education sector in Ireland.
“The commitment to develop what will be Ireland’s first strategy dedicated specifically to children 0-6 years will ensure that the significant advancements within the early childhood sector witnessed over the past ten years are developed and built upon”.
Minister Fitzgerald attended Donegal County Childcare Committees annual conference in May 2010, where one of the key policy messages delivered by DCCC regarding a future agenda for children was the development of a dedicated strategy for children 0-6 years.
Start Strong, an organisation that works to promote informed policy development and increased investment in young children has also advocated strongly for this development to bring early care and education in Ireland up to the highest international standards by 2020.
Avril told us: “The benefits of this early years strategy will be far reaching. A large and growing body of research has consistently shown that prevention and early intervention approaches such as quality early childhood care and education, are both more effective and more cost effective than later interventions at primary and secondary level. This Strategy is an investment in children and it will help build the foundations of Ireland’s future economic growth. It is an investment that will deliver benefits for children, for parents, the economy and for society as a whole and delivers a strong message on the value we place on a child’s first six years of life”.
Avril concluded “the commitment to develop Ireland’s first early childhood strategy presents an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that ambitious and stalwart course of action features in government policy now and into the future. Now that this opportunity has been presented, it is critical to ensure that the scope of the strategy is ambitious, contemporary and influential. Through its effectiveness in prevention and early intervention, quality early care and education has the potential to transform children’s life chances and reduce future social expenditure by the State”.