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Project partners

Early Childhood Ireland


Early Childhood Ireland is the leading children’s advocacy and membership organisation; we work in partnership with our members to achieve quality experiences for every child in early years and school age childcare settings; we advocate for an effective and inclusive early years and School Aged Childcare system which values, supports, and invests in childhood, children, and services. Our vision is that every young child is thriving and learning in quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare in centre based and childminding settings.

Early Childhood Ireland has a rich history of member support work, training and strong advocacy that spans over 5 decades. In 2012, two compatible organisations the Irish Preschool Play Association (IPPA) and the National Children’s Nurseries Associations (NCNA) merged to form Early Childhood Ireland with a combined heritage of over 50 years.  Today ECI is the largest membership organisation in the sector dedicated to ensuring that every young child is thriving and learning in quality Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare in centre based and childminding settings.  The longevity of the organisation and its continued commitment to this important role is a testament to its leaders and members.

75% of all early childhood care and education and school-age childcare services in the country are our members, with a reach of 150,000 families. Our vision is that every young child is thriving and learning in quality ECEC and School Age Childcare in centre-based and childminding (FDC) settings.


  • Liz Kerrins, Director of Research
  • Aoife Horgan, Research Support Officer
  • Fiona Kelleher, Early Childhood Specialist

Aarhus Universitet


Aarhus University was founded in 1928. It has 42,500 students: about 1,900 PhD students and close to 850 postdoctoral scholars, together with 11,500 employees (2021). AU has 4 faculties that cover the research spectrum – basic research, applied research, strategic research, and research-based advice to authorities. The Danish School of Education (DPU) at AU is the hub of education and educational research in Denmark. With 150 scholars and more than 90 PhD students, it constitutes one of the largest education research environments in Europe, covering the field of educational studies from early childhood and pedagogy to comparative education policy and learning technology. Research at DPU has an international foundation and is built around strong scientific perspectives on educational theory regarding Didactics, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and Anthropology. AU conducts interdisciplinary research with an education inquiry focusing on childcare and schools who play a central role.


  • Grethe Kragh- Müller, Lecturer/Researcher



VBJK, Centre for Innovations in the Early Years, is an autonomous NGO, established in 1986 and recognized as a research centre by the Federal Belgian Government. VBJK is an official partner of Upgrowing Agency (Opgroeien) the governmental organisation responsible for services for young children and their parents in the Flemish Community of Belgium and works in close collaboration with the University of Ghent. Since 1986, VBJK has been heavily investing in research and innovation projects in ECEC with a focus on professionalism of ECEC practitioners and ensuring accessibility of ECEC for all children. VBJK has built a solid record of expertise in collaborating with actors within the field of ECEC with civil society and social policy makers. VBJK has many years of experience in producing texts and training materials in relation to scholarly work. For the past 20 years VBJK produces a magazine for practitioners in ECEC and published books for practitioners.


  • Hester Hulpia, Vernieuwing in de Basisvoorzieningen Voor Jonge Kinderen

Vlaams Welzijnsverbond


Het Vlaams Welzijnsverbond (The Flemish Welfare Association) gathers facilities from three branches in welfare work: youth assistance and family support, support for people with a disability and childcare. Het Vlaams Welzijnsverbond represents 750 organizations, which together account for a capacity of approximately 27,000 places and the employment of 31,000 people. We are also recognized as an employers' organization. Within Het Vlaams Welzijnsverbond, the childcare sector focuses on providers of group and family care, both for babies and toddlers and for school-age children.


  • Ellen Maris, Vlaams Welzijnsverbond