Better Start

Better Start is a Quality Development initiative of the Department of Children Equality Disability Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) collaborating with the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and works to establish a cohesive approach to quality across the Early Childhood Education and Care sector in Ireland. Better Start is hosted by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children Equality Disability Integration and Youth.

There are three Strands of Better Start –

1. The Quality Development (mentoring) Service to enhance quality of practice in early years settings

The Quality Development Service has, since October 2014, provided a skilled and experienced Early Years Specialist team to work directly in a mentoring capacity with early years services, on a national basis. The Early Years Specialist use the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, 2014) as a key resource in mentoring services to develop ECEC quality for children. If you are interested in receiving support from Better Start Quality Development Service please refer to the Better Start website for further information or email  

2. Supporting Access and Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in ECCE (AIM)

The Better Start Access and Inclusion model offers a range of supports including on-site mentors (Early Years Specialist’s) to ensure that all children with disabilities can access and fully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme. This model provides Expert Early Years Education Advice to ECCE providers and supports providers, parents and children to access additional resources, where necessary.

3. As part of Level three of AIM

A qualified and confident workforce provides a broad multi-annual programme of formal and informal training for pre-school staff in relation to disability and inclusion. A number of specialised providers, coordinated by Better Start, will be involved in the delivery of this programme, which commenced implementation in 2018 with delivery of Hanen Teacher Talk and Lámh training. Further information is available from

For more information on AIM please refer to the dedicated website and to the Better Start webpage Access & Inclusion Model.

Coordination, cohesion and consistency of quality supports

The broader aim of Better Start is to bring coordination, cohesion and consistency to provision of state funded ECEC quality supports and to work in alignment with statutory ECEC systems. It is a national service, working in collaboration with the National Síolta Coordinator in the Early Years Policy Unit, in the Department of Education and Skills, The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Aistear Coordinator, City and County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations. For further information on Better Start National Early Years Quality Development refer to the dedicated website

Programme Contact Details

AIM Training


Better Start Enquiries