HISTORY OF THE ECCE SECTOR IN IRELAND Pre-schools did not exist in Ireland before the 1980s -1990s

Pre-schools did not exist in Ireland before the 1980s -1990s. This was mostly due to the fact that Irish women who got married and started a family, became stay at home mothers. The few that did continue to work usually had extended family to care for the children ie grandparents or close family friend in the community. In 1957, primary school teachers were allowed to work. When Ireland joined the E.E.C. in the early 70s, many more women joined the workforce. This was helped by parity of pay and rights for women with their male colleagues. Babies and children were then cared for in community or private enterprises. All that was required to provide such care was if one had children of their own or could provide proof of experience in working with children.

The Van Leer Foundation ( an organisation that promotes the early education of children living in disadvantaged areas) along with the Department of Education worked together to set up a pre-school in Ruthland Street Dublin in 1969. This was the first pre-school of it’s kind in Ireland. As well as providing for children in poor areas, it also aimed to prepare children for primary school.

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In 1992, Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (U.N.C.R.C). This states that “the rights of the child is a legally binding international agreement setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of their race, religion or abilities”
Soon after this, the powers that be started to recognise the importance of early childhood care and education for babies and children. In 2000, the Department of Health and Children published the National Children’s Strategy which aimed to support all aspects of children’s development by providing quality child care services.

As the demand for quality grew, so did the initiative to form organisations that could help implement quality guidelines. In 1998. The National Forum on Early Childhood Education was established to bring groups (who were interested in child education)together to do this. 1999 saw the establishment of the National Voluntary Childcare Collaborative (N.V.C.C) which consists of 7 organisations dedicated to the promotion of E.C.E.C in Ireland. These are
BarnardosChildminding in Ireland
Children in Hospital Ireland
Forbairt Naionrai TeoIrish Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Association
St. Nicholas Montessori Ireland
Early Childhood Ireland
The Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (C.E.C.D.E) which was set up in 2002 to achieve the goals outlined in the “Ready To Learn” programme 1999, produced Ireland’s first Quality Framework entitled SIOLTA.