Supporting Children's Early Years


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The first years of a child’s life, up to eight years, are crucial for their development and wellbeing, yet the rights of younger children have often been overlooked. We will change this through working with our members and key decision makers to develop and support practices to ensure all children in Ireland get the best start in life. 

The ideal approach to the first years of a child’s life puts the needs of that child front and centre. Government decisions should focus on health, learning and behavioural development. Early childhood education care and parental leave are some of the key areas in our work here.

Young children should be protected from poverty and be in suitable environments for learning. Parents should be supported to be able to make the best possible decisions for their children through family-friendly work policies and having access to affordable, quality childcare. A whole-of society approach is needed to support early childhood development for all children, and we work to ensure that the State creates systems and provides the supports necessary to make this possible.

Our Goals for Children's Early Years

  • We will monitor the Government’s actions that impact Ireland’s youngest children, and where possible will work with politicians and civil servants to ensure laws, policies and services are of the highest quality possible and follow best-practice.
  • We will engage in the development and implementation of an Early Years Strategy for Ireland to guide a whole-of-Government plan to enhance the Early Years sector and supports.

  • We will seek a focus on ensuring the Government commits to the funding needed to provide investment in early years’ education and care, raising the quality services and childminding, including regulation and the recognition of early years’ practitioners as educators while improving ease of access for children.
  • We are also calling for improvements for parents and guardians who choose to stay in the workplace, including a full year of paid parental leave.

Progress updates

  • Regular updates on our work on Early Years can be found in our Early Years Newsletters, which you can read here. Our research and submissions on Early Years can be read here.
  • In August we made a submission to the Government in advance of Budget 2018, calling for investment in Early Years education and care.
  • #ReportCard17: Rights in Early Childhood.
  • Our calls to Government in the development of an Early Years 
  • Strategy can be read here.
  • You can read about our review and recommendations for Early Childhood here, and for Parental Leave and Prevention & Early Intervention here.
  • Our Chief Executive Tanya Ward responded to the Government’s focus on Early Years in Budget 2016.


    • You can find research, submissions and policy papers on this area from the Children’s Rights Alliance and Start Strong here.
    Published date: 
    Friday, March 10, 2017