Development of the ECCE Sector in Ireland


22 Nov 2017

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  • Anne-Marie Keegan
  1. Historical development & the role of the government of the ECCE sector in Ireland from the 1960’s up to and including the present day.

I am going to explain the historical development of the ECCE sector in Ireland from the 1960’s up to and including the present day. I will also cover the following points:

  • Historical development of the ECCE.
  • Equal opportunity legislation.

Historical development of the ECCE.

Over the past 50 years Ireland has changed completely regarding the government, childcare and its families. Ireland conventionally had a laissez-faire policy approach with regarding the children. Laissez-faire means the policy of leaving things to take their own course, without interfering. "A laissez-faire attitude to life" (Oxford dictionaries, 2014). The government have now come up with the idea of funding a free preschool year; this was aimed at families that could not afford to send their children to preschool, so therefore this is an advantage for the children aged 3-4 years as they are getting the education they need. As seen in the 1960’s it was quite a tradition for the men to work on the likes of farms and for the women to stay at home and mind their children. The women were not allowed in the work place in the 1960’s. All of this change so much during the ‘Celtic Tiger’. Nowadays you would rarely see as tradition was before, a housewife and a working father. This has also changed family structure over the past 60 years. Whereas nowadays it would be more natural for children to be raised by a one parent family or even step parents. Also now divorce has become more acceptance than before in the 1960’s where it would have been frown upon. Childcare has been more about mothers than fathers, whereas now the childcare settings are trying to introduce the fathers into this setting as part of diversity. From this setting there are more groups which have been set up to help the children like the following: special needs assistant, childcare committees and after school groups which is a one on one session.

Equal opportunity legislation

During the past 50 years there has been a major change to equal opportunity in Ireland. The government has brought in the employment equality act 1998. This is based on the 9 grounds of discrimination, which are:

  • Gender
  • Family status
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Membership of the traveller community.

So from the above 9 grounds the childcare setting will abide by these for example there will be no judgement on the children who attend the crèche for example their race or even religion. So I think that the government had the right idea bringing in this legislation as in the 1960’s they would have discriminated against many people, but now its quite right and fair how people are been treated.

There are many different types of discrimination for example:

“Direct Discrimination: - Happens where a person is treated less favourably specifically on one of the nine discriminatory grounds.

Indirect Discrimination: - Happens where there is less favourable treatment in effect e.g. where people are refused a service or employment not explicitly on account of a discriminatory reason but because of a practice or requirement which they find harder to satisfy – resident’s association for example.

Discrimination by Association: - Happens where a person associated with another person is treated less favourably because of that association.” (Equal at work)

Other important legislation which the government have brought in regarding the ecce setting is:

  • White paper on early childhood education. Ready to learn (1999)

Q2. Discuss two pieces of statutory legislation that the ECCE settings must adhere to protect the welfare of children.

I will discuss the following two:

1. Equal Opportunity Act (2000)

This act is based on the 9 grounds of discrimination, which are as follows:

  • Marital Status
  • Family Status
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender
  • Membership of the Traveller Community

The above 9 grounds of discrimination allow for everybody to receive the same opportunity’s, without been discriminated for example their sexuality or nationality. My understanding of this act is that everyone is entitled to be treated with the same amount of respect as any other person. It also promotes equality and diversity, which is an excellent thing.

  1. Childcare Act 1991.

From my understanding of this that it has the best interests of the child at heart. It also has high quality standards, for example, the childcare setting should be fully staffed to the national ratios and also to the space provided. The act has now been implemented and basic rights of the children should be met. There has been great measures been met daily to protect children from danger, for example, “no one waits until a child has been burned by fire or run down by a car to teach them about fires and road safety. “ Donohue and Gaynor.

Q3. Discuss and evaluate the children first guidelines for the protection and welfare of children in Ireland.


This Act came about in 2011, by the minister for children and youth affairs, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald TD. The guidance it’s self-deals with recognising, reporting and the management of child safety concerns. It sets out a number of key points in relation to the protection of children. Some of the key points are the safety and welfare of children, children’s wellbeing, saver lives for children and also the reporting of concerns and co-operation with statutory bodies.

Children first is national guidance that promotes the protection of children from abuse and neglect. It also states what organisations need to do to keep children safe, and what the general public should do if they have a query about a child’s safety and welfare. The guidelines are set out specifically for the HSE social workers, Gardaí and other forms of professionals working with suspected abuse and neglect. It’s very important that the different agencies share the information that they have as, as it is in the best interest of the children, which is what the guidance is all about to ensure better outcomes in the future.

Anybody can read the children’s first document, but it is especially for the HSE social workers, Gardaí and children first staff working directly with the children for example teachers, the health sector and clubs.

All organisations have responsibilities, including the likes of schools, Government Departments, public sector agencies, funded organisations and health services. They all have the responsibility to safeguard the children by:

  • Raising awareness within the organisation about potential risks to children's safety and welfare.
  • Promoting the general welfare, health, development and safety of children.
  • Adopting and consistently applying a safe and clearly defined method of recruiting and selecting staff and volunteers.
  • Developing effective procedures for responding to accidents and complaints.

If organisations have concerns for children they should contact the HSE as they will deal with them effectively. Children first was first published in 1999. The principle and substance of the document (2011) are unchanged. The guidance has been updated to reflect new policy, legislation and organisation (HSE, HIQA, DoCYA). The document reflects the ongoing of bullying as a feature of abuse.

The guidance will make children safer as the guidance is made fit for purpose. If the public need information on this guidance they can get it in each Garda station, general practioner, primary schools and secondary schools as one hard copy has been provided. People can also get their information off the following sites: and .


From reading about the "Children First National Guidance 2011", I myself have come up with the following conclusion.

  • It focuses on the child needs, which is quite important.
  • The child is always the Centre, meaning the child always comes first in any of the situations which occur.
  • A person apply to work in the childcare sector, now needs to be fully garda vetted as to the child’s protection is the main priority.
  • The guidance is focused on a saver life for the children and all agencies working together to achieve this.

Q4. Outline two pieces of social policy one national and one international. Discuss the impact on the wellbeing of children and families.


UN Convention.

This policy consists of 54 different articles regarding to the rights of a child. It basically gives everyone under the age of 18 the following rights:

  • The right to a name.
  • The right to an education.
  • The right to know their rights and responsibilities.
  • The right to clean water.
  • The right to live and develop.
  • The right to be safe from harm and neglect.
  • The right to privacy.
  • The right to heath care.
  • The right to a nationality.
  • The right to be treated equally and fairly.

So as you can see from the above points, the UN Convention is all about focusing on the rights of the child. A from some of the articles which I will mention below, they focus on the wellbeing of the children and their families.

Article 2

"All children have these rights, no matter who they are, where they live, what their parents do, what language they speak, what their religion is, whether they are a boy or girl, what their culture is, whether they have a disability, whether they are rich or poor. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis."

I think this article explains itself really as not one person should feel any different, and everyone should be treated the same so that the families and their children all feel the same and no different from other people.

Article 7

"You have the right to a name, and this should be officially recognised by the government. You have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country)."

This means that all is welcome in to a country without feeling left out.

Article 9

"You have the right to live with your parent(s), unless it is bad for you. You have the right to live with a family who cares for you."

All children and their families have the right to live a happy life of their own without any interference from others. This is necessary for their wellbeing.

Article 11

"You have the right to be protected from kidnapping."

All children should be safe from any kind of kidnapping no matter where they live.

Article 12

"You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously."

I really like this article a lot as I believe that if each and every child spoke out about their problems, that it could save lives in later years. It would definitely create a bond with the child and their parents, which is great for both of their wellbeing’s.

Article 13

"You have the right to find out things and share what you think with others, by talking, drawing, and writing or in any other way unless it harms or offends other people."

All children and adults are and should be allowed to express their feelings in whichever way they like, as it’s not a good idea to hold it all inside, As said above its alright unless it harms or offends others.

Article 14

"You have the right to choose your own religion and beliefs. Your parents should help you decide what is right and wrong, and what is best for you."

I believe that everyone should choose their own religion, as there is too much fighting over what religion people are. People should feel safe in which religion they wish to choose, as it is their own choice and they should not be bullied into it.

Article 17

"You have the right to get information that is important to your well-being, from radio, newspaper, books, computers and other sources. Adults should make sure that the information you are getting is not harmful, and help you find and understand the information you need."

Article 20

"You have the right to special care and help if you cannot live with your parents."

This is necessary in some situations, and sometimes it is for the wellbeing of the child. So therefore it is alright.

Article 21

"You have the right to care and protection if you were adopted or are in foster care."

Article 23

"You have the right to special education and care if you have a disability, as well as all the rights in this Convention, so that you can live a full life."

I really agree with this article as I believe no matter what all children even with a disability should be entitled to a fair education. An everyone should be treated the same.

Article 26

"You have the right to help from the government if you are poor or in need."

This is very well needed, as some families need help and have nowhere to get it from. This could cause the child to get bullied in school and could lead to low self-esteem, which is not good for their health or well-being. So yes the government should help out.

Article 27

"You have the right to food, clothing, and a safe place to live and to have your basic needs met. You should not be disadvantaged so that you can’t do many of the things other kids can do."

Again this is similar to the above article.

Article 29

"Your education should help you use and develop your talents and abilities. It should also help you learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people."

If this is done the right way without the child been forced to develop their skills, the child will be amazing at their talent. This will give them a huge confidence boost and make them happy.

Article 33

"You have the right to protection from harmful drugs and from the drug trade."

Each and every child is entitled to live a drug free life; this should not be forced upon them in anyway.

Article 34

"You have the right to be free from sexual abuse."

Article 42

"You have the right to know your rights! Adults should know about these rights and help you learn about them, too."

All adults should explain the rights of a child to their children, as its good for the adult to learn them too.

Articles 43 to 54

"These articles explain how governments and international organisations like UNICEF will work to ensure children are protected with their rights."

The above articles (italic only) were cited on:

So from reading the above and finding out about them, I have learned that the UN Convention is definitely well and truly needed for the safety and well-being of the child and also their families. An each and every person is entitled to these no matter what their circumstances are. An also it’s good that the government will help out those who are in need. People don't actually realise this, but this is actually saving some peoples life’s knowing that there is help out there, in which is excellent for their health and well-being in a way.


Constitution of Ireland

The constitution is a document in which recognises and declares that the people living in Ireland have certain fundamental rights. These are natural human rights and are protected by the constitution. Not every fundamental right which we have is set out by the constitution, only the rights which are specifically stated in the constitution. Fundamental rights can be limited or even restricted by the oireachtas on the grounds, for example, public order or for the common good.

Some of the main constitution rights are:

  • Equality before the law
  • Right to life
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of association
  • Bodily integrity
  • Trial by jury
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to earn a livelihood
  • Freedom to travel
  • The rights of the family

All of the above are in relation to the wellbeing of children and their families as they were made to give or make their lives happier. The constitution is all about giving children and their families their basic rights, as one of the above rights is, “right to life”, every single human should be entitled to this and live it in which way they possibly feel like, without any interference from others. The constitution was made so that everyone including children and their families can live a life of their own, without and interference and to which happiness they would like. This increases their confidence knowing that they have these rights. It was also set up for their protection for example, no person can working the childcare sector without being garda vetted first. This is needed as you need to feel save leave your children a childcare setting, and also the child needs to feel safe and secure. So to sum all of this up the constitution has an extremely important part in a child’s and family’s health and wellbeing. It is there to help all, an people need to know and learn more about their rights.


Oxford dictionaries. (2014). ‘oxford dictionaries’. Oxford university press. UK. [assessed 20/02/2014].

Equal at work. ‘Equality legislation-a summary’. Ireland: equal at work. Cited on:‎. Accessed on: 21/02/2104.

The Ombudsman for children (2110). UN Convention on the rights of the child. The Ombudsman for children. Ireland. Cited on: accessed on: 25/02/2014.

Donohue,J and Gaynor, f. (2011). EDUCATION AND CARE 4TH EDITION in the early years. Spain. Gill and McMillan. Page 162.

Word count: 2735.

Anne-Marie KeeganPage 1


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