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An Evaluation of the Work of An Cosán

Research Staff

Dr. Jean Whyte, Ms. Tina Byrne

About the Project

Background

This study comprised an evaluation of the adult education and early childhood education and care offerings provided by An Cosán in West Tallaght.

An Cosán offers a range of complementary support services to reduce intergenerational barriers to labour market participation, educational attainment and poverty alleviation for children and their families living in conditions of social and economic disadvantage.

While the widespread provision of systematic statutory early childhood educational provision is limited in Ireland, international research suggests that high quality programmes in the earliest years can result in positive gains in children, particularly for those who suffering from various forms of disadvantage. Specifically, it has been demonstrated that quality educational programmes have a positive impact in terms of children's cognitive development, self-esteem and confidence, future life aspirations, and employment and earning prospects (Childhood Development Initiative, 2005).

Those who do not achieve formal educational qualifications are disproportionately likely to experience marginalisation within the labour market, including unemployment, insecure jobs and/or low pay (Smyth & Hannan, 2000). The factors which can impede participation in the workforce or in the formal educational sector can range from dispositional (e.g., fear of schooling, low self-esteem and confidence due to prior negative experiences of the formal educational system), institutional (e.g., location or non-existence of services) situational (e.g., lack of childcare, transportation) and structural. The integrated holistic model of service provision, including early childhood care and adult education programmes at centres like An Cosán seek to enhance the life chances of those who participate in them.

What did the research focus on?

The overall objective of the study was to evaluate the impact of the integrated model which An Cosán has developed through assessing a range of outcomes in the lives of the children and adults who participate in its programmes.

What did the research involve?

A mixed methods approach, comprising qualitative, as well as quantitative research techniques was employed in carrying out the evaluation. The quantitative component of the evaluation involved collecting data at baseline and follow-up on a range of outcome domains for children and parents (e.g, parent-child relationships; parenting skills; cognitive, social and emotional development). The qualitative dimension of the study sought to provide insights into adult learners' subjective experiences of taking part in these programmes, as well as capturing the ethos of the organisation. It also sought to elucidate the role of programme participants' beliefs and values in shaping outcomes (Maxwell, 2004).


Last updated 15 March 2010 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).