A NEW quality assurance programme providing a blueprint for achieving a gold standard of care and education for children up to the age of six has been launched.
It is aimed at childminders who care for children in their homes, creches, Montessoris, and infant classes in primary schools.
The programme, designed to meet the standards of Siolta, the national framework for quality in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) settings, was published by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn.
It was piloted on a phased basis over the period 2009-2013, and 57 ECCE settings completed the programme during this time.
Mr Quinn said there was clearly an appetite from ECCE practitioners to engage with the Siolta Quality agenda and aspire to achieving the highest standards possible.
He said while it was "a demanding benchmark that may take some time for all of our early childhood settings to achieve", it was a worthy aspiration, and with the right support and mentoring it could be achieved.