As identified in the European Commission’s 2021 publication, Early Childhood Education and Care: How to Recruit, Train and Motivate Well-qualified Staff, the quality of ECEC provision is highly dependent on the professionalism, competence and commitment of staff working in the sector, and it is therefore increasingly important that there is continued support for staff training and development (p.7). This report concluded that the quality of ECEC provision increases when staff are available in sufficient numbers, they are well qualified, educated, and motivated to stay in the profession. FDC is included in the report’s understanding of ECEC staff (p. 104) and family day care in the European Commission’s definition of ECEC.
There are differing models of FDC in the 3 countries, and other models are known to the partner organisations, from individual to collective models, private and public sector, and models where FDC and childcare centres collaborate to deliver services to families and to develop the quality of the workforce. The partners in this project are in European countries/regions that are in varying stages in the development of integrated national and regional ECEC systems, providing robust learning opportunities for those directly involved, and for identified targets and stakeholders through the proposed outputs. Yet, the differing FDC models in the partner countries and regions have features in common that require us to be solution focused: all are challenged in recruiting and retaining regulated childminders. All need to understand why this is and identify effective strategies to turn this around.
The objectives of this Project are to:
3. Increase the capacity of partner organisations to advocate for effective policies and
practices that enable high-quality FDC systems and services
This project links with the Erasmus + Program priorities as in the partner countries socially and economically disadvantaged families, and children with special needs, are great users of FDC, in the Irish case, more than centre-based services. Yet there remain challenges in all three partner countries to supporting the workforce in FDC to meet the rights and needs of vulnerable children and families and progress inclusion and understand diversity. The workforce can lack the competence in inclusive pedagogy due to non-participation in relevant CPD.
Family day carers, largely female, have poor pay and conditions: Professionalization is crucial.
While countries like Denmark have plans and management systems in place to pursue inclusive practice, and support access for a diverse population of children and families, strategies and guidelines from municipalities remain inadequate to accommodate children and families from non-standard backgrounds - exclusion is widespread.