Better Start    

Better Start is an initiative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, in collaboration with the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills and Pobal to establish a single, cohesive approach to quality across the Early Childhood Care and Education sector in Ireland.  The broader aim of Better Start is to bring co-ordination, cohesion and consistency to the provision of state funded quality supports and to work in alignment with statutory systems, i.e. regulation and inspection, in the Early Childhood Care and Education sector.

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The Better Start Quality Development Service

The Better Start Quality Development Service is an additional resource to support and drive quality improvement. It provides a highly skilled and experienced Early Years Specialist team to work directly in a mentoring capacity with Early Years services, complementing and adding to other quality resources such as training, CPD programmes, networking, cluster type support groups and individual or team based development work.

The Quality Development Service will operate on a national, rather than regional or county basis. Requests for the service can be made through your local CCC and will be processed centrally.  Early Years Specialists will be allocated to ECEC services on the basis of availability, skills and experience, as far as possible matching the service profile.

The new criteria (number 3 below), has been added for sessional services (Nov 2016).

For details of Better Start Quality Development Service revised criteria please click here

Better Start Criteria November 2016


AIM -Access and Inclusion

The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.  Its goal is to empower service providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education.  (

AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the service provider. For many children, the universal supports offered under the model will be sufficient.  For others, one particular discrete support may be required to enable participation in pre-school, such as access to a piece of specialised equipment.  For a small number, a suite of different services and supports may be necessary.  In other words, the model is designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual child in the context of their pre-school setting.  It will offer tailored, practical supports based on need and will not require a formal diagnosis of disability.



Affordable Childcare

From September 2017, your child may qualify for childcare supports. If you are a parent with a child in registered childcare and would like to find out more, please click below for further information.


More information for Childcare Providers Providers -

More information for parents -