Start Strong recently carried out a consultation process on a vision for the future of children's early care and education in Ireland. The consultation process aimed to open up a debate about what we want services and supports for young children and their families to look like in 2020, and about what Government policies we need over the next 10 years to get there.
The consultation process, which was facilitated by Candy Murphy, had various elements:
- Meetings with individual stakeholders
- A series of focus groups, some regional, some on specific themes
- A national consultation meeting, held in Dublin on 24th June, titled 'Children 2020: Developing a Shared Vision for the Future of Children's Early Care and Education in Ireland'
- An online facility for written submissions
- A number of consultation projects with young children
- Meetings with our own Board of Directors and Research Advisory Committee.
Among the many stakeholders we talked to in our consultation process were:
- Parents' networks
- City and County Childcare Committees
- Early care and education organisations / networks
- Social Partners
- Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
- Children themselves.
During the summer, Start Strong has been working with Candy Murphy to prepare a report on the consultation process and on the ideas that arose in it.
We published our report, "Planning Now, for the Future" on Wednesday 17th November (10.30am at the Royal College of Physicans). The report summarises the findings of our consultation process, sets out a vision for the future of children's early care and education in Ireland, and identifies a series of policy recommendations. As part of our campaign for a 10-year National Plan for Early Childhood (which we are calling Children 2020), we will then present our proposals to the Government and to opposition political parties. The summary report can be accessed here (Children 2020 summary report) and the full report can be accessed here (Children 2020 full report).
We will also subject our policy proposals to cost-benefit analysis. We have appointed Goodbody Economic Consultants to carry out this analysis.
Further details will be available on this section of the website and in future issues of our e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page).