Image of Minister Roderic O'Gorman & Ciaarn Cuffe of the Green Party with young children at a table with an 'Equal Start' image, to mark the launch of Equal Start, at YMCA Dublin Childcare services

Equal Start, a new funding model from DCEDIY designed to ensure children experiencing disadvantage can access early childhood learning and care services, was launched this week at YMCA Dublin Community Hub on Aungier Street.

YMCA Dublin sees Equal Start as having wonderful potential as a targeted support to ensure that children experiencing disadvantage can access the childcare services they need. This initiative is one of the most significant state interventions for children facing poverty and disadvantage since the introduction of the DEIS model in schools, and it promises to have a lasting positive impact.

As a policy intervention, Equal Start aligns closely with our view that services should be provided on an inclusive, open-access basis, with targeted support for those experiencing disadvantage. Having emphasised this point during a meeting with DCEDIY officials in early 2024, it is encouraging to see this position reflected in policy. 

We believe Equal Start has the potential to provide essential, sustainable resources for families accessing our services, both at Aungier Street and at future locations in additional Dublin communities.

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Image of Minister Roderic O'Gorman & Ciaarn Cuffe of the Green Party with young children at a table with an 'Equal Start' image, to mark the launch of Equal Start, at YMCA Dublin Childcare services

Equal Start will provide funding and resources targeted at specific children and settings, in addition to universal funding and resources.

Given the high concentration of children experiencing disadvantage who access our services, we expect to benefit from all three strands of Equal Start support starting in September 2024.

These supports are anticipated to include:

  • Funding and tailored support for children in key target groups, such as those living in Disadvantaged Small Areas (as per the Pobal Index) and those fully Sponsored through the NCS.
  • A new Family Community Liaison role, similar to Home School Community Liaison Officers in schools, along with associated training.
  • Funding for additional staff time and for providing hot meals.
  • The rollout of ‘Early Talk Boost,’ an early intervention program for 3-4 year-olds experiencing language delays.
  • A range of new and updated guidelines and training programmes.

Learn more about Equal Start here

 

We were delighted to welcome Minister O’Gorman, officials from DCEDIY & ELC sectoral reps into YMCA Dublin for today’s launch event.

Looking forward to seeing Equal Start make a difference for children, families & communities experiencing disadvantage – and society as a whole.

Stuart Buchanan

Head of Children & Family Services, YMCA Dublin

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