The National Early Years Access Initiative (NEYAI) was officially launched by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in June 2011. It is a collaboration between Atlantic Philanthropies, Mount Street Club Trustees, Office of the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Department of Education & Skills (Early Years Education Policy Unit), and Pobal who manages the initiative.

NEYAI has a dual focus reflecting a national and local orientation: ‘At national or programmatic level, the Initiative is concerned with establishing a strong evidence-base to contribute to improvements in practice and coordinated service delivery and to influence policy change (wherever relevant and appropriate) with regard to improved learning/educational, wellbeing outcomes for children and their families. At local level, it is concerned with building the delivery capacity of local projects specifically with regard to data collection, monitoring, reflective practice and creating an operating ethos/culture conducive to learning and continuous review. This approach will in turn help to strengthen the quality and impact of the local project while simultaneously contributing to the quality of the learning of the Initiative as a whole. The mechanism for uniting and inter-linking these two dimensions will be the creation of a Learning Community whereby a creative space/opportunity can be made available (and appropriately resourced) as an aid to: stimulate thinking/learning; the cross fertilization of ideas; the sharing of resources; and the exploration of good practice etc. on an ongoing basis’ .

The general aims of NEYAI are:

  • Improvement in the quality and coordination of local services to young children and families in a small number of demonstration sites; and
  • Provision of an evidence-base to inform mainstream practice and policy with regard to the design and delivery of integrated services for young children and families and to leave in place a sustainable legacy for the future.

The more specific aims of NEYAI are:

  • Demonstrate innovative inter-agency responses to the provision of early years care, education and development;
  • Improve access to early childhood care and education services;
  • Increase participation in early childhood care and education services;
  • Inform a community-based model to underpin the local delivery of joined up services to children and families;
  • Involve children and families as active participants in the programme;
  • Contribute to the development of robust evidence-based evaluation;
  • Influence early years’ mainstream practice and provision;
  • Contribute to the ongoing development of early years’ policy.

The primary target population is 0-6 year old children and families residing in socio-economically disadvantaged areas. The secondary target population is early years service providers; Children’s Services Committees (CSCs), City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs), educational establishments, local, voluntary and community organisations and local communities.

The Initiative is based on a recognition that Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (CECDC, 2006) and Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (NCCA, 2009) are the fundamental bedrocks and reference points for the future growth and development of the early years care and education sectors. Together they provide the strategic quality frameworks for the early years care and education sectors. Therefore it is essential that all projects are designed in ways that reflect various aspects of these frameworks but tailored to local needs.

For further details on the NEYAI, please consult the Pobal website.

For further details on Siolta, please consult the Siolta website.