Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social sciences, Sociology, Anthropology, Social topics

Publication Details

Submitted to the Department of Social Sciences, Technological University Dublin, in partial fulfilment of the requirements leading to the award Masters (MA) in Mentoring, Management and Leadership in the Early Years.


A strong body of evidence demonstrates that young children under the age of three are experiencing a critical period in their development which impacts long term mental and physical health. Responsive, secure and positive relationships between young children and their caregivers is integral to healthy social and emotional development.The principle aim of this study is to explore how the needs of children under the age of three are perceived and addressed in Irish early childhood education and care settings from a practice and policy perspective.A qualitative research approach was adopted utilising semi-structured interviews with managers of full day care settings as well asadocumentary review of the learning outcomes of the Quality and Qualifications IrelandLevel 5 Early Childhood Education and Careaward. The principal findings which emerge from this study show that a greater percentage of less qualified and unqualified practitioners, are working with the youngerage group and the question as to whether these practitioners are likely to be less effective at meeting the very specific needs of young childrenis raised. Findings also indicate that current policy,which requires a lowerqualification and contributes to poorerworking conditions for practitioners may bedirectly, negativelyaffecting the quality of the early care and education of young children.