Including Children’s Voices produces Better Policy and Better Services

Young Knocknaheeny Area Based Childhood Programme (YKABC) launches its most recent publication: Circle Time, Selfies, Friends and Food: Researching Children’s Voices in Early Years Settings in the Young Knocknaheeny ABC Programme.

Publication available for download: Circle-time, Selfies, Friends and Food: Researching Children’s Voices in EarlyYears Settings in the Young Knocknaheeny ABC Programme

Led by Dr Shirley Martin from the School of Applied Social Studies in UCC, in partnership with YKABC and the Barnardos Brighter Futures Early Years Centre, this report captures the voices of children engaged with YKABC’s Early Years setting quality improvement initiative.

The launch took place in Hollyhill Library, Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny on Friday 13th September at 10am, followed by practice-based workshops held in Barnardos Brighter Futures, Knocknaheeny. Workshops were facilitated by leading Early Years practitioners and explored how Early Years’ workers can incorporate the voices of children in settings including vulnerable children.

The key note address was delivered by Professor Laura Lundy of Queens University, Belfast, who also officially launched the Report. Other speakers on the day included: Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Damien Boylan; Katherine Harford, YKABC Manager; Dr Shirley Martin, UCC School of Applied Social Studies; and, Sarah O’Gorman of Barnardos Brighter Futures.

Introducing the event, Katherine Harford, stated, ‘It is fantastic that we are considering Early Years’ children’s voices at all levels and we’re putting them centre stage in our community. Working together with the speakers here today, Barnardos Brighter Futures and the children themselves, YKABC are leading the way on how to incorporate children’s voices into practice, through a right-based approach, and learning as we go in the process’. Quoting Frederick Douglass, Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Damien Boylan stated, ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men’. During her keynote speech, Professor Lundy explained, ‘Only children can provide the unique insight into what is best for them. We need to create the conditions where children’s rights are sought, and we need to create the conditions where it is uncomfortable for adults to solicit children’s views and to ignore them’. In speaking about the Report, Dr Martin noted, ‘Adding children’s voices to the programme can help us understand children’s experiences to produce better policy and better services. It allows us to interrogate the adult-centric quantitative data and adult perspectives generated in the ongoing YKABC project evaluation’.

YKABC is a community based prevention, promotion and early intervention programme, based in the Northwest sector of Cork City. It supports parents and families, practitioners and services from the pre-birth period into infancy and early childhood. YKABC brings the science, evidence and policy of infancy and early childhood development into best practice through partnership and collaboration to get every child’s life off to the best possible start by:

  • Respectfully enhancing skills and early childhood development knowledge of all parents, practitioners and services;
  • Strengthening and supporting all relationships and environments that are important to every child’s early development;
  • Embedding systems and community change to support early childhood development and address childhood poverty;
  • Participatory learning and evaluation, documenting and policy development.

The YKABC Programme is delivered through 4 locally designed, interconnected strategies, underpinned by an Infant Mental Health (IMH) Framework:

  1. Infant Mental Health and Well-being Strategy
  2. Speech, Language and Literacy Strategy
  3. Early Years Care and Education On-going Quality Improvement Strategy
  4. Prosocial Behaviour and Self-Regulation                Strategy

Multi-disciplinary workforce capacity building; through training, mentoring, coaching and peer support; is a key feature of all 4 strategies. YKABC is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It is aligned to Better Outcomes Brighter Futures. It is part of the national Area Based Childhood Programme, which has now transferred into the TUSLA Prevention Partnership and Family Support Strategy.

To date, approx. 50 services and agencies have partnered with YKABC. Over 5,500 children and parents have engaged with YKABC programmes, and over 500 practitioners have engaged in training and ongoing professional development and reflective practice.

For press enquiries please contact, or phone 021-6010656. To view the report, it is available in full from www.youngknocknaheeny/resources. Photographs from the day were taken and circulated by Darragh Kane.