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Community playgroups contribute to a sense of identity, belonging and participation. Beyond the family and the school, the community has the potential to contribute to the development of supportive environments for our young pre-school aged citizens. In recognition of the vulnerability of these important services in Ireland the Community Playgroup Initiative (cpi) 2001 – 2004 was established. It was funded by the Katharine Howard Foundation in partnership with the then South Eastern Health Board (SEHB) in Ireland. This three-year project was developed to assist community playgroups to deliver a high quality sessional service, to identify and evaluate the impact of funding and support on the quality of service provided and to highlight the value of community playgroups. In the cpi each of five community playgroups within the SEHB had access to a part-time co-ordinator and €45,700, to be drawn down over a three year period, in order to enhance the quality of their provision. A multi disciplinary, representative, regional and national advisory group steered the project. A formative evaluation was conducted from the beginning of the process and was both an intrinsic part of developing quality and a tool to influence policy. The findings relating to cpi are presented and analysed according to three dimensions: •Community playgroups in operation •cpi: model of delivery •Community playgroups and family support The cpi has demonstrated that, with developmental support and modest funding, community playgroups can support families and deliver high quality services that give children positive social interactions and opportunities for active pre-school learning, a sense of belonging, social networks and accessible services.
French, Geraldine: A Summary of the Evaluation of the Community Playgroup Initiative. The Katharine Howard Foundation ISFC, 10 Grattan Crescent, Inchicore, Dublin 8 KHF: Community Matters No. 4