"My favourite part of the job is the children, I love the kids. We have a lot of craic as staff too, you know yourself."

November 17, 2022

"I’ve been working for CHI’s childcare for 21 years. I am now the longest running CHI Member of staff for the moment anyway.

I was here for the opening of St. Finian’s. I had been working in childcare for about a year before I started. It was lovely at first, it was only one room and we had 18 children when we got to full capacity. I think we started off with ten or twelve. We thought of different things we could do if we had more space and we applied for capital funding. Then the place became a big service, much bigger, double the size. Last year, we celebrated our 20th birthday. We had a little cake and party and celebrated with the children here.

Initially, the children were from the Co-operative housing nearby, but that generation grew up. The good news is, bad news for me because it makes me feel old, is that the local children who attended here are now coming back with their children! St. Finian’s is a mix of co-op housing and council housing, so some of them are from council housing. Some of the residents in the square here, we would have had their grandchildren, that kind of thing. It has branched out now.

Some of kids in St. Finian’s in the early days would not ever have received early childhood education if we weren’t here. We made it available and affordable for them.

Currently, we have 34 preschool and 34 afterschool, so capacity is about 68 kids in total.

I hope my staff will stay with me with all the current issues to do with childcare. You have to look after them. There’s seven of us. Debbie is here 20 years. Geraldine is here 17 years. The three new girls are here about three years. We have two rooms, since Covid we started calling them pods and the names have stuck. I have three staff members in each pod, including access and inclusion staff in each, who are like Special Needs Assistants. They work with children who are on the spectrum, or have other difficulties.

My favourite part of the job is the children, I love the kids. We have a lot of craic as staff too, you know yourself.

We had our graduation in May and we were blown away. We hadn’t seen the parents all year because of Covid. We had a section cordoned off and set up like a little coffee shop and had coffee and refreshments and all the parents came. It was an absolutely gorgeous day weather wise. When we came out to them [the parents] they were just so full of compliments, we were overwhelmed. I think it was because they hadn’t been able to talk to us much all year. We really felt special that day. They brought us lots of chocolates and candles. We were inundated with compliments and appreciation.

We participated in some quality improvement programmes: Quality Improvement, Siolta and Elevate. Siolta, in particular, is a massive piece of work. We had to put together a portfolio to evidence the practice, to highlight its quality. You had to show evidence of what you do, for example, staff support, to document this in hard copy. We spent extra time putting the portfolio together in our own time after work, which shows the commitment of the team. We scored 4, the highest score available and won an award from Early Childhood Ireland.

The team is delighted to be moving to Startbright, who are 100% childcare focused and are looking forward to new challenges."

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