The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD, announced that a request for tenders for the provision of services to measure and assess the quality of early years provision in Ireland will be issued later this evening.
An assessment of the quality of early years provision in an Irish context was first recommended in the 2013 'Right from the Start: The Report of the Expert Advisory Group on the Early Years Strategy'. By using internationally recognised assessment tools, the Expert Advisory Group noted this should 'inform implementation priorities for the Early Years Strategy and provide a baseline for subsequent assessment of the impact of quality raising measures adopted by the Strategy’.
In July 2015, the Report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment also included among its recommendations that such an assessment of quality be undertaken on a triennial basis 'to benchmark progress and to ensure that, over time, the impact of improved quality provision on outcomes for children can be assessed'.
Minister Zappone secured funding to conduct this assessment of quality in Budget 2016. The key objectives of the study are to:
• develop and pilot a measurement instrument(s) to assess the quality of early years provision in the Irish context;
• undertake a baseline assessment of quality in a representative sample of registered early years settings in Ireland and;
• provide a baseline for subsequent assessment of the impact of quality raising measures in the childcare sector.
Announcing the commencement of this renewed focus on measuring and assessing the quality of early years provision, Minister Zappone said “I am delighted to be able to announce this pioneering enterprise; I believe the ability to measure and assess the quality of early years provision in Ireland will prove a landmark step forward in the quality agenda as we strive to develop greater access to affordable, high quality childcare for parents.. This work will not only provide my Department with an evidence base that will inform future policy decisions; work which is fundamental in realising the best outcomes for children in early years; it will also assist in our journey to professionalise the invaluable work of the sector.”
The ‘Request for Tender for the provision of Services to Measure and Assess the Quality of Early Years Provision in Ireland’ can be located on www.etenders.gov.ie. The closing date for responses to the tender through www.etenders.gov.ie is May 29th, 2017 at 5 p.m. It is anticipated that the Study, comprising instrument development and data analysis phases, will commence in September 2017, and take approximately two years.