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Early Childhood Education

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 22 February 2012

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Questions (120)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

120 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to invest in a targeted early childhood education programme for disadvantaged children as committed to in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8075/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

The commitment in the Programme for Government is that ‘As resources allow, this Government will invest in a targeted early childhood education programme for disadvantaged children, building on existing targeted pre-school supports for families most in need of assistance such as the Youngballymun project. There are existing wholly State-funded intervention programmes for young children at risk of educational disadvantage. The Early Start programme aims to provide an educational programme for children aged 3-4 which would enhance their overall development and offset the effects of social disadvantage. The specific objectives of the programme are: To enhance the children's language cognitive and social/emotional development by engaging them in structured play activities which are characterised by high quality adult/child interaction. To assess the strengths and needs of each child in relation to language, cognition and social/emotional development and to plan and deliver a programme of learning to meet the identified needs in these key areas of learning. To devise strategies which actively engage parents in the education of their children.

The Early Start programme has been in existence since the mid 1990s and this programme along with the Rutland Street pre-school programme were, until recently, the only wholly State funded educational programmes for pre-school children. In recent years, the State along with Atlantic Philanthropies have funded Prevention and Early Intervention Programmes in areas of disadvantage. These include YoungBallymun, Tallaght's Childhood Development Initiative and the Preparing for Life Programme in Darndale. The evidence accruing from these intervention programmes as to what works most effectively for young children at risk of educational disadvantage will inform any further targeted interventions.

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