Case study Ireland 2020

Pregnancy to Age 3 in Ireland

The early years sector in Ireland has experienced a period of unprecedented change in recent years moving from predominantly informal, ad-hoc home care unsupported by the state, to a far more regulated and structured provision. Ireland did not begin the move towards a formal early childhood education and care system until the late 1990s with Preschool Regulations first introduced in 1996. But female participation in the workforce rose through the 1990s and reached 55.7% by 2018 increasing the need for care outside the home for children from birth to six.

Following decades of under-investment, Ireland has therefore increased government spending through a variety of funded programmes: the introduction of The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Year Services) Regulations on a legislative basis in 2016 and a new Quality Regulatory Framework in 2018 to improve the quality of the early years sector. In addition, Ireland’s first National Early Years Strategy, First 5 A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028, was launched in November 2018.

This material is part of a compilation of various case studies from across Europe that show different facets of early childhood development, and the types of policies and interventions that we are promoting through the ‘First Years, First Priority’ campaign. Published in December 2020.

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