The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, has announced that €4m is being provided to improve childcare services.
The 2017 Early Years Capital Funding programme is being made available to childcare centers, crèches and other early year services under three strands:
- Strand 1: Additional childcare places
- Strand 2: Building improvements and maintenance
- Strand 3: Natural outdoor play areas
Stepping Stones Early Learning Centre (SSELC) will qualify under Strand 1: Additional Childcare Places of this funding. SSELC are currently assessing the need to provide additional Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) places in the locality. Consultation is currently being carried on with a number of interested stakeholders and we would like to give you, parents and indeed the community as a whole the option to input in the process.
Should a need in the area be highlighted SSELC aims to extend the current facility which operates on a sessional basis providing ECCE for children aged 2.5 - 6 years. The proposed extension will provide another specialised ECCE room catering for 13 children aged 2.5 - 6.
In line with the vision of the national childcare strategy Right from the Start (2013) SSELC aims to provide universal and inclusive high quality provision, to ensure that all children in the catchment area benefit. This proposed development will not only extend the capacity of SSELC to cater for additional ECCE children but also for children with additional needs. This suggested extension will include a disabled toilet and will be fully accessible to all children, thereby allowing SSELC to become a fully inclusive service to all children within the community.
According to Right from the Start (2013) targeted services and supports for children and families with additional needs can be built on a base of universal services, such as SSELC. In addition, the evidence on early care and education shows that young children do best when they are in services with a mix of children from different social backgrounds (Sylva et al, 2003), which universal provision helps to achieve.
SSELC consistently operates at a very high level of quality having been awarded an overall Level 4 in the Síolta, Quality Assurance Process and gaining an all-round excellent report from the Department of Education and Skills Early Years Education Focused Inspections. SSELC will commit to extending its service to cater for the growing population of the area should the need to highlighted by the current consultation process and should the DCYA see fit to provide funding for this project.
Please take 3 minutes to have your say in this consultative process by clicking here.