Last weekend, at the European Early Childhood Research Association (EECERA) conference, hosted by Early Childhood Ireland in DCU, Miriam O’Regan from Avoca in Co. Wicklow was given the EECERA 2016 Student Research Award in front of an audience of nearly 1,000 early childhood educators and researchers for her submission entitled “Mainstreaming Childminding in Ireland: Attitudes towards Professionalization”.
A delighted Miriam was presented with her award, which includes a free trip to the next EECERA conference in Bologna Italy next year, for her study on the progress towards professionalizing and regulating childminding in Ireland which included a ‘World Café Forum’ (conducted in conjunction with Childminding Ireland) to engage high numbers of parents and childminders to share their perspectives.
Miriam, who currently works as a Community Employment Programme Manager for Childcare with Bray Family Resource & Development Project, having previously worked with Wicklow County Childcare Committee, is a part time student at Dublin Institute of Technology, doing an MPhil by research with Dr. Ann Marie Halpenny as her supervisor and Dr. Nóirin Hayes (visiting professor at TCD) is her advisory supervisor.
Her winning submission is a mixed method study on the attitudes of childminders and parents on the progress towards professionalizing and regulating childminding in Ireland. It makes a clear case that home based care in Ireland is an under-researched area but one where policy action is required. The findings reveal a “surprisingly highly qualified and committed group of practitioners and parents who desire better qualifications, training opportunities, support and salaries for those engaged in this important early childhood education service.”
“Importantly” according to the judges, “it is also an area of focus which has transferability to many other cultural and national contexts where home-based care is in a similar stage of development. Methodologically, this study is innovative and fascinating as it grappled with respondents who are often hidden and hard to reach. It uses appreciative inquiry methods and social media to establish a ‘World Café Forum’ which successfully engages high numbers of parents and childminders to share their perspectives and this should be commended. This study has resonance, not just for Ireland but much more widely and its findings deserve wider dissemination.”