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In 1996, the first legislative control over early education services in Ireland came into place in the form of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations. The research hypothesis of this study was that the implementation of the Regulations had an impact on quality of early childhood care and education (ECCE) services in Ireland. It was also acknowledged at the outset that other related factors, such as increased level of investment and improved levels of training, may have affected quality of provision. Baseline data, gathered in 1994 and 1995 as part of the cross-national IEA Preprimary Project in which Ireland took part, was used to investigate the changes in quality. This allowed comparison of both structural and process elements in ECCE provision before the implementation of the Regulations, and six years after their implementation in 2002. The methodology of the present study involved revisiting a sub-sample of the original IEA Preprimary Project national sample, and undertaking structured observations and administering questionnaires to teachers and supervisors. The study also sought to investigate the attitudes of both Pre-school officers and Supervisors towards the regulations. A number of key issues emerged from the research. Firstly, improvements were found in the quality of the pre-school provision in the present study as compared to that of the original study although it is not clear the extent to which these improvements relate directly to the Regulations. The results also suggest that the need for pre-school training is becoming more widely accepted in the sector in Ireland. As predicted, increased awareness of training for ECCE professionals, and increased levels of funding appear also to have had an effect on quality. A third issue emerging from this study is the changing role of the pre-school teacher. The findings of this study also provided information regarding the nature of the relationship between structural and process variables in quality ECCE provision which was apparent in the findings. The study concludes with a number of recommendations.
O'Kane, M. (2004). A Study of the Impact of the Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996) on the Quality of Early Childhood Services in Ireland: the IEA Preprimay Project Revisited. Masters dissertation. Technological University Dublin. doi:10.21427/D7D61C