Cheeky Cherubs Early Years Schools attended the Association of Childhood Professional’s Annual Conference on Saturday June 7th 2014. The conference was to celebrate the first birthday of the national body which was launched in June 2013 by the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald. Michele, one of our Co-Directors, and Anne Marie, manager of our Bishopstown centre, are both on the council and helped in the organising of the day.
The conference centred its theme around “Finding Our Voice”. ACP Chairperson Marian Quinn conveyed the message that the Early Years and School Age Care and Education is a profession and to ensure that the profession is recognised, respected and valued, childhood professionals need to stand together as a strong and unified voice.
There were thought provoking workshops and plenty of networking opportunities throughout the day as well as informative exhibits to browse. Keynote speakers included Katherine O’Donnell from UCD and June O’Reilly from CIT. Workshops compiled of a selection of “How To Argue Better” – conflict resolution for families, “Finding Your Voice” – music activity practice, “Mindfulness and Stress Management for Professionals” – stress management therapies including mindfulness, mediation etc, and “Advocay in Action” – how to advocate for change in the early years.
We, as childhood professionals, were urged to unite and ‘find our voice’ to drive needed reform in Early Years services. Marian Quinn told delegates in Cork on Saturday that a lack of resources and inadequate policy continue to compromise the quality of service provision. It is only through professionalism that childcare quality and standards will be progressed. Some 320 million euro has been taken out of Early Childhood Care and Education in recent years. As Marian told the Examiner this week “The Government must realise that quality costs money and support serious investment in Early Years Care and Education” also adding “I call on the new Minister for Children, Charlie Flanagan, to consult with us and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the resource level and policy development required to ensure quality for children and families.”
Overall it was a very inspiring experience where we spent the day with other caring, enthusiastic and motivated childhood professionals. It was right that we spent the day celebrating the high standards and good practice that so many childhood professionals do deliver every day.
“Together we can make a difference”