Dr. James Reilly, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs today officially launched – ‘Non-Parental Childcare and Child Cognitive Outcomes at Age Five’ – the latest in a series of reports to emerge from Growing Up in Ireland, the National Longitudinal Study of Children.
Speaking at today’s launch, Minister Reilly said:
‘I welcome this report which sheds light on key issues relating to early childhood care and education. The study findings, when combined with extensive international evidence in countries more advanced than Ireland in early years care and education, support Government’s current policy direction. These combined findings provide valuable information for ongoing policy discussions relating to early years provision and matters of choice and quality.’
‘The report highlights the important role of free pre-school education provided under the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme. It also highlights the fact that many children and parents would not be in a position to avail of pre-school without this free universal scheme. The study shows that this is particularly so for disadvantaged children, the group of children who benefit most from formal programmes such as this.
I would like to acknowledge the invaluable contribution Growing Up In Ireland is making to policy development on a range of issues relating to children and families across a range of Government Departments’.
What are the main types of non-parental childcare arrangements for children at age 3?
At age three, the main types of non-parental childcare arrangements are: relative care (often by a grandparent); non-relative care (typically a childminder); and centre-based care (e.g. crèche).
Do childcare arrangements at age 3 influence children’s abilities in language and reasoning at age 5?
Does age of starting childcare and number of hours per week spent in childcare matter?
Starting in childcare at an early age (by nine months) had no effect on children’s cognitive outcomes at age 5.
Does participation in early childcare particularly benefit children from disadvantaged or non-English-speaking backgrounds?
The Free Pre-School Year
Commenting on the findings today, Dr Helen Russell from the ESRI, one the report’s authors noted, “The first five years of life are of critical importance in children’s cognitive development. This study highlights that when tested at age 5, children who attended childcare at age 3 did as well as those cared for solely by their parents. A key issue for the future is evaluating the quality of care received in different settings.”
The ESRI works towards a national vision of ‘Informed policy for a better Ireland’. This means producing high-quality analysis to provide robust evidence for policymaking, with the goals of research excellence and policy impact.
The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.