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Study of Childcare Provision for Preschoolers with Special Needs in Co. Roscommon

Research Staff Dr. Jean Whyte, Ms. Fiona Daly, Ms. Aoife Daly

About the Project


This project was set in the context of a heightened awareness of the unfulfilled needs of children with disabilities and was informed by the Audit of Research on Early Childhood Education in Ireland 1990-2003 which includes a chapter focusing on children with special needs.

The overall aim of this research was to identify and describe the experiences of preschoolers with disabilities and their parents in accessing and using mainstream childcare services in Co. Roscommon. It aimed to explore the experiences of childcare providers in offering and providing services to children with special needs and/or disability. The family and social supports of parents of children with special needs and/or disability were investigated as were the experiences of parents of children with special needs and/or disability who were not using mainstream childcare services in the county.

What did the research focus on?

The research was community based and focused on the experiences of parents whose children (aged 0 — 6) were registered as having special needs and who were availing of services and of mainstream care, as well as parents of children who were registered as having special needs but were not availing of services or mainstream childcare.

It also focused on childcare providers — the facilities they offered, the experiences they had in catering for this group of children, their views on the system and the training and supports they had and needed.

What did the research involve?

The research had three main phases:

  1. Literature review and consultation with parents, professionals, providers to arrive at a definition of ''special needs' and 'disability'; identification of potential participants — children, parents, providers of child care; preliminary consultations with a small sample of parents and service providers, preliminary observation of some children in child-care and home situations.
  2. Data gathering on provision and utilization of services, adequacy of services etc through questionnaires for all service providers and all parents using childcare facilities; qualitative information though interviews with a sample of parents and providers; observation and interaction with children to determine their view on their experiences. Children with special needs were ' twinned' with children not classified as having special needs using the same childcare facilities.
  3. Data was analysed so as to fulfill the aims of the study.

Final products of the research

A report entitled 'Páistí le Chéile - A study of the experiences of children aged 0-5 with special educational needs and their parents and service providers of mainstream preschool services' was prepared in 2006.

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