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About Us

Better Start is a Quality Development initiative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), collaborating with the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and works to establish a cohesive approach to quality across the Early Learning and Care (ELC) sector in Ireland . Better Start is hosted by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

There are three strands of Better Start:

The Quality Development (Mentoring) Service to enhance quality of practice in early years settings
The Quality Development Service has, since October 2014, provided a skilled and experienced Early Years Specialist team to work directly in a mentoring capacity with early years services, on a national basis. The Early Years Specialist use the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, 2014) as a key resource in mentoring services to develop ELC quality for children. The purpose of the Practice Guide is to support practitioners in using Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009) and Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (2006) together to develop the quality of their curriculum and in doing so, to better support children’s learning and development.   Click here to read more about the Quality Development Service.
Supporting Access and Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in ECCE (AIM)
The Better Start Access and Inclusion model offers a range of supports (since June 2016) including on-site mentors (Early Years Specialist’s) to ensure that all children with disabilities can access and fully participate in preschool. This model provides Expert Early Years Education Advice to ECCE providers and supports providers, parents and children to access additional resources, where necessary. The Early Years Specialist’s work collaboratively with HSE and other agencies to ensure children with disabilities can participate fully in ECCE.  For more information on AIM please refer to the dedicated website AIM.gov and to our Access & Inclusion Model page.

Coordination, cohesion and consistency of quality supports

The Broader aim of Better Start is to bring coordination, cohesion and consistency to provision of state funded ELC quality supports and to work in alignment with statutory ELC systems – i.e. regulation and inspection. It is a national service, working in collaboration with the National Síolta Coordinator in the Early Years Policy Unit, in the Department of Education and Skills, The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Aistear Coordinator, City and County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations to ensure that children in Ireland benefit from high quality early years services. Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Aistear, The National Early Years Curriculum Framework are the national quality frameworks which underpin this work. These evidence-based frameworks are designed to support early years services to provide the best possible outcomes for children from birth to six years.

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