Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth Programmes
The government aims to improve outcomes for children and young people and make Ireland one of the best countries in which to grow up and raise a family.
The strategic objectives of the government include:
- implementing Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, a national policy framework for children and young people
- making high quality early learning and care, and school age childcare, accessible
- ensuring that parents are supported to parent confidently and positively
- ensuring child welfare and protection systems are effective and responsive
- promoting and supporting evidence-based policy, and letting children and young people participate in decisions that affect their lives
- supporting high standards of compliance on governance and accountability
- improving performance through the alignment of resources
The new National Childcare Scheme opened on 20 November 2019. The scheme provides both universal and income-related subsidies to help parents meet the cost of quality childcare.
A universal two-year pre-school programme called Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) is available to all children within a certain age range. It provides children with their first formal experience of early learning before they start primary school.
The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) core goal is to promote inclusion and to ensure that children with disabilities can meaningfully participate in the free pre-school Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme in mainstream pre-school settings. To achieve this goal one of its main objectives is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience. This ensures that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of early years care and education.
AIM is a child-centred model, with a range of universal and targeted supports. It offers tailored, practical supports based on need and does not require a formal diagnosis of disability
The national policy framework for children and young people, Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, identifies the importance of supporting parents. Supporting parents is 1 of 6 transformational goals that are central to delivering the best future for children and their families.
The government supports parents through the provision of information, services and financial assistance. Support is provided through a variety of different government departments and agencies.
Some of these supports include:
- family resource centres
- financial assistance
- information and advice
- parenting programmes