For love or money: exploring the professional identity of the Early Childhood Care and Education sector in Ireland today.
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This, study: For love or money: exploring the professional identity of the Early Childhood Care and Education sector in Ireland today examines a broad range of ECCE policies and initiatives throughout the last twenty years that have influenced professionalism within the ECCE sector. Such policies include; the Childcare Act, 1991 (Department of Health and Children (DHC)), the Childcare (Pre-school Services) Regulations (DHC, 1996, 2006), Síolta: the National Quality Framework (Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE), 2006) and the Free pre-school year in ECCE scheme (Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), 2010). These various policies and initiatives highlight not only the importance of quality ECCE but the complexity of working with young children. However, notwithstanding recognition for training and development within national policy documents, it is as yet, a relatively new concept in Ireland (Moloney, 2010, 2011, Moloney and Pope, 2012). Using qualitative methodology, i.e., interviews and focus group discussions, this study explores the views of twenty four research participants; ECCE practitioners, City and County Childcare Committees (CCC) and National Voluntary Childcare Collaborative (NVCC)) representatives as well as B.A ECCE graduates and 3rdlevel training and education providers in relation to their perceptions of the professional identity of the ECCE sector in Ireland today. The overarching finding indicates that while ECCE policy has positively influenced societal perceptions and attitudes towards ECCE there is still a long way to go before the sector in Ireland is recognised and valued as a profession. Ultimately, ECCE and those working within the sector remain undervalued and underappreciated.
KeywordsEarly childhood care
Early childhood education and care