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About Us

Better Start National Early Years Quality Development is a national initiative established by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and hosted by Pobal. Better Start promotes quality and inclusion in Early Learning and Care (ELC) settings for children from birth to six years of age in Ireland.

Our Principles and Approach

  • Children at the centre always
  • Strengthsbased, working from where a service or individual is at
  • Respectful partnerships and collaborations
  • Evidence-based best practice
  • Continuous quality improvement
  • Inclusion for all children
  • Continuous professional development
  • Focused on best outcomes for children
  • Voluntary engagement

Our Vision

A national service which delivers state-aided supports based on the Síolta and Aistear frameworks, to Early Learning and Care settings in a coherent and consistent way, so that those services are of high quality and deliver positive outcomes for children.

Our Strengths-Based Approach

Our strengths-based approach is about valuing everyone equally and building on a person’s skills and abilities. It is about identifying when learning and development is going well so that it may be replicated.

Our Partners

We work in collaboration with :

  • Pobal
  • Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY)
  • Tusla Early Years Inspectorate, 
  • Department of Education Early Years Policy Unit and Early Years Education Inspectorate
  • National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) 
  • City and County Childcare Committees, 
  • The Health Service Executive 
  • National Council for Special Education (NCSE)
  • National Parents Council (NPC) 
  • A range of other statutory and voluntary support organisations working to promote inclusive quality practice in Early Learning and Care for children.  

Our Team

The Better Start team consists of a national team of professional Early Years Specialists and Team Leaders, who, alongside our management and administration team, work to ensure that children in Ireland benefit from high quality Early Learning and Care settings. Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Aistear the National Early Years Curriculum Framework underpin this work.

For more information: National Frameworks

Our Work

The Quality Development Service

The aim of the Quality Development Service is to work in partnership with Early Learning and Care providers in Ireland to build a high-quality practice based on the national early childhood frameworks, Síolta and Aistear. Our skilled and experienced Early Years Specialists work directly with Early Learning and Care settings throughout the country, in an advising, mentoring, coaching and training capacity.

For more information: The Quality Development Service

The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) provides a progressive model of supports designed to ensue that children with disabilities can access and participate in the​ Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. Our team of skilled and experienced Early Years Specialists work with ECCE settings nationally. The Early Years Specialist provides expert educational advice and mentoring to pre-school practitioners to ensure a child’s meaningful participation and inclusion in the ECCE programme.

For more information: Access and Inclusion Model

Better Start Early Years Learning and Development Unit

The Better Start Early Years Learning and Development Unit coordinates the delivery of an agreed programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training and resources, including Hanen Teacher Talk, Lámh, National Aistear Síolta Initiative (NSAI).

For more information: Learning and Development

Our Approach to Mentoring

Mentoring in Better Start is a supportive, relationship-based learning process between an early years practitioner and an early year’s specialist. The relationship is based on the values of respect, openness and a commitment of both parties to quality early learning and care experiences for children. The process is reflective, strengths-based and tailored to the individual context of each Early Learning and Care setting.

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