Getting ready for preschool!

This is such an exciting time for many families. Preschool can be one of the memorable aspects of a child’s younger years, and it also helps set the stage for school and even for life! This should be a time of growth and development and a setting that fosters a love for learning, self-confidence, building relationships, and more. While there are many new concepts and insights that will be gained, preschool is a combined effort built by everyone involved: parents, teachers, and the child.

When children start preschool , they are learning more than just facts and concepts. They are adjusting to working in a community and learning to follow those rules. Children are adapting to taking directions from a different adult, and they are also trying to figure out what their role is in their preschool class among their peers.

Here are five key components that we believe every child should have in order to experience a successful transition to preschool.

1) A desire to explore: Before a child can learn, they must feel confident enough to discover and explore his environment. This is an innate skill that we are born with, and these moments are vital. Children learn best through play and need opportunities to explore, create, build, and to figure out how things work. They thrive with windows of time to pretend at the dollhouse, to build with legos, to play outside with sticks and rocks, and to take things apart, again and again. The more a child plays, the more creativity they develop, and the more they understand how the world works around them. Children who have lots of experience playing before preschool easily adapt to the environment and become absorbent learners quickly.

2) The ability to follow one and two step directions: A big part of the preschool day involves listening to the teacher. Teachers often give directions such as “put your tissue in the bin please,” put the truck back on the shelf,”or “get your coat and go to the door.” It is important for children to be able to listen to these instructions and to be able to carry them out.  While it might be tempting to do some of these activities for children, they are better off if we use them as learning opportunities. It is a huge skill for children to follow directions, and sometimes it takes weeks for children to get the hang out of it in the classroom setting. Children who are successful at following directions when they enter preschool have a huge advantage over those who do not as they are able to dive into learning activities instead of spending so much time practicing their listening skills.

3) Practice at completing tasks: As a child is playing, he needs to develop the skills to complete a project or at least the opportunity to. In our busy world, we are running around doing errands, jumping in the car constantly, and rushing to the next activity.  In the midst of our crazy schedules, children need to be given time to just build a castle out of blocks, to paint a picture, or to splash in the water table until they have said they are finished. Give the busy lifestyle a break, and allow for children not to feel hurried or rushed. Children who have practice completing tasks also have much longer attention spans and have greater abilities to stay focused amidst all the distractions that a group setting brings.


4) The confidence to speak up: There are many times in a preschooler’s day that a child needs to feel confident and secure enough to tell the teacher something. We want them to come to us and tell us when they need to use the bathroom, when they need help, when they are finished with an activity, or when they accidentally make a spill. Some of us are great at reading body language or figuring out what a child needs, but when there are lots of little bodies around, we won’t see everything. Even a quiet and shy child can quickly build trust with the teacher and become an  excellent communicator.

5) A beginning understanding of empathy: While this is listed last, it is definitely one of the most important traits that all children (and adults) should have. Empathy is a huge factor in how children build relationships. Children who are empathetic are able to get along better with their peers and treat the children and adults in their environment with respect. One of my favorite aspects of empathy is that it breeds strong leaders in the preschool classroom. The best way to teach empathy to a child is to role model it for them. The next time your child cries, let her know that you see that she is very sad. Sometimes it’s scary when she falls, or it is hard when mommy says “no.” Children who have had their feelings validated all throughout their lives always stand out as they continually form positive and healthy friendships.

Free Early ChildCare Education

We are participating providers of the new Government’s scheme to provide a free pre-school year for children in the year before they start primary school.

What is Free ECCE?

The ECCE is a new scheme designed to give children access to a free Pre-school Year of appropriate programme-based activities in the year before they start primary school.

Participation in a pre-school programme provides children with their first formal experience of early learning, the starting-point of their educational and social development outside the home.

Children who avail of pre-school are more likely to be ready for school and a formal learning and social environment.

We advise parents to enrol your child as soon as possible for available free Pre-school as there are limited spaces available.

Will my child be eligible?

The ECCE Scheme is open to all children aged between 3 years 3 months and 4 years 6 months at any stage during the September of each pre-school year (i.e. in practice, this includes all children of at least 3 years, 2 months and 1 day old on 1st September, but under 4 years, 7 months of age on that date).

To avail of the year in September 2014, children must have been born between 2 February 2010 and 30 June 2011.

Exceptions may be allowed where a child is verified as having Special Needs which make a later starting date appropriate, or where local primary school enrolment policies require (i.e. rather than allow) a later enrolment date.



What is the CETS Scheme?

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs OMYCA has recently introduced a new childcare support scheme, the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) Scheme.

The CETS scheme is designed to support the childcare needs of participants in training and educational courses operated by FÁS and Vocational Education Committees (VECs).

How to apply:

Simply ask your training commitee for a letter stating that you are eligible for the CETS Scheme, bring this to us and Monaghan County Childcare put an application on your behalf.



After-School Childcare (ASCC) Programme

Eligibility1. From 14 July 2014 the ASCC scheme will be available to customers of the Department of Social Protection who:
· are currently getting Jobseekers’ Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) or One -Parent Family Payment (OFP) or are on a DSP employment programme; and
· have been  in receipt of JB, JA or OFP or on a DSP employment programme (or any combination of the 4) for at least 3 months; and
· have one or more children aged between 4 and 13 who are in primary school,
· either:
– start a new job; or
– increase the days currently worked; or
– start a DSP employment programme (except CE CE is excluded from eligibility for ASCC as the CE Childcare Programme now caters for all CE participants with children from 0 to 13 years of age.).

2. For those in part-time employment, subsidised after-school childcare will be provided on a pro-rata basis.

Administration and Controls

3. The Department of Social Protection assesses customers of the Department in order to determine if they are eligible to avail of the childcare support. Evidence of employment is required from the employer where applicable. Once an individual is deemed eligible, they receive a letter confirming their eligibility and the amount of afterschool childcare provision applicable. They are then referred to their nearest County Childcare Committee who connects them with the relevant providers.

4. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs are responsible for providing the after-school childcare places, including the contracting and payment of the childcare providers, quality standards for the provision of these places and for all other engagements with the providers and the County Childcare Committees.

State rate of contribution and parental contribution
5. From 14 July 2014 the state contribution for the scheme will be increased to €40 per week per child from €35 and the parental contribution will decrease from €20 per week per child to €15 per week per child. A state contribution of €80 will be provided for after-school childcare with pick-up service but the parent contribution will remain at €15 per week. During school holidays, for 10 weeks the state contribution will increase to €105 per week from €100 but the parental contribution will remain at €15 per week.
Type of Childcare State Contribution Max Parental Contribution
Basic ASCC* €40 €15
with Pick-up €80 €15
*10 Weeks Holiday
(no pick-up service) €105  €15

Duration of support and progression
6. Individuals who are granted a subsidised after-school care place will be able to retain this place for one year (52 weeks) while they remain in employment or on their employment programme.


Community Employment Childcare (CEC) Programme

A CE Applicant who needs childcare in order to take up a place on a CE scheme is eligible for a CE childcare place.

Note: where a child/children of a CE Participant is participating in ECCE during the same time as the CE Programme (i.e. morning or afternoon), that child cannot transfer to a CE childcare place.  However if a parent is participating on CE on an alternative time of day to the child’s ECCE programme the parent can also avail of CE childcare for the time of day they are participating on CE.

Access to the CEC Programme for CE participants means participants can access childcare support in the same way as participants pursuing ETB/Solas training courses. Feedback from CE Sponsors in 2013 was that lack of access to affordable childcare was a barrier to participation for parents with young children, particularly lone parents; this measure is an important provision in their engagement.

Further detail in relation to how Community Employment childcare places will be managed is set out below:

1. Childcare Places will be allocated to children up to 13 years of age;
2. There will be 1,200 part-time places available for CE participants with children up to 5 years of age (as CE is a part-time programme), and 800 places available for CE participants with children who require after-school childcare;
3. The Parent contribution is €15 per week and the state contribution is €80 per week for part-time childcare;
4. In the case of after-school childcare, the parent contribution is the same at €15 and the state contribution is €40 per week;
5. In the case of after-school childcare, during holidays, the state contribution will increase to the part-time childcare rate of €80 per week. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis;
6. CE participants in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment (OFP) prior to commencement on CE will be particularly welcome to take up a childcare place;
7. Places will be open to existing participants as well as new entrants;
8. Places will be approved for 50 weeks in a 12 month period for CE participants. A parent can re-apply for a CE childcare place after the 50 week period comes to an end, and a place will be approved subject to demand and availability.
Type of Childcare State Contribution Max Parental Contribution
CE Childcare (part-time) €80 €15
CE After-school*
(no pick-up service) €40 €15
*10 Weeks Holiday
(no pick-up service) €80 €15

The CE Policy Division has on-going engagement with the County Childcare Committees (CCC) in relation to this programme.

Monitoring take-up of CE Childcare places:
Take-up of CE childcare places is monitored on a monthly basis by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA). A DSP monitoring form is circulated to all CE Scheme Sponsors at the end of each month and Sponsors make returns to the DSP Employment Policy Unit.  The provision of this data to the Department of Social Protection allows the Policy Unit to accurately report on take-up of the places available to CE participants, and to plan effectively in relation to any necessary changes to the Scheme. The DCYA also monitor the take up of places and ensure the availability of places and budget is kept in accordance with the allocation.

Existing Childcare Provision
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs currently implements two childcare programmes, the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) scheme and the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) scheme.

Between both of these programmes, subsidised childcare is provided to 40,000 children of low-income parents. Approximately 1,600 providers, both community and commercial, participate in the CETS scheme.

In addition, the Department administers the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, which is availed of by over 65,000 children each year at an annual cost of €175 million.