New Cork service offers fun childcare at affordable rates

Respond's new service in Carraig Liath will cater for 1 to 12 year olds
New Cork service offers fun childcare at affordable rates

Respond has over 20 years of experience in the delivery of high quality Early Learning and School Age care

It’s no exaggeration to say the national housing crisis is one of the biggest challenges that Ireland can expect to face in the coming years, even as we navigate a strange road to post-pandemic recovery. Every week, a new rental advert will go viral — with small rooms offered at eye-watering prices, and record-breakingly low numbers of properties available.

With all the disheartening news that’s come alongside supply pressures, some cause for optimism has also appeared. Originally founded in the 1980s, Respond has gained more prominence than ever in recent years as one of Ireland’s leading Approved Housing Bodies and service providers, emerging as a source of vital support for many.

One of the keys things that sets Respond apart is continued dedication to their motto; “Building homes, improving lives.” The aim of the organisation from the outset has been to alleviate poverty and create vibrant, socially integrated communities. They do this by providing not just housing, but also by providing services in the community including , childcare and school aged care services, Family Support, Day Care Services for Older people and other services and supports.

In particular, Respond’s commitment to making education and childcare accessible to all is what’s driven their next venture. They are opening a new Early Learning and School Age Care service in Carraig Liath, Co. Cork, which will cater for 1-12 year olds. It will offer 34 places for 1-6yrs and 22 places for 6-12 year olds.

Lisa O’Rourke, Respond’s National Manager for Early Years Education, says the facility is being opened primarily to address the severe shortage in affordable childcare options for younger infants — a nationwide issue which she says is rapidly becoming just as serious as the housing crisis.

"Across the early years sector, there’s a huge accessibility issue for parents, but it’s especially apparent when looking at care options for children under three,” Lisa explains. “That’s definitely where the biggest gap in the market is, and so we’re particularly delighted that our new service in Carraig Liath will provide an additional twelve places especially for under 3's. I really think this service will be a huge help for parents because we know high costs can be a real financial burden. In care settings, the child to adult ratio that’s required once you start admitting under 3’s really drives the cost up for childcare providers, because they need to put on extra staff. Many providers are not catering for that age group because of the high cost, so it can be hugely difficult for parents to actually find a place for their child, before they can even think about paying for it. Our Carraig Liath service will help bridge this gap for the community it serves.”

Lisa O’Rourke, Respond’s National Manager for Early Years Education.
Lisa O’Rourke, Respond’s National Manager for Early Years Education.

Due to the nationwide shortage of such options, the fifty-six places available for children in Carraig Liath are sure to be in high demand. As well as the scarcity, though, Lisa says there are many other reasons why Respond’s early years services are highly sought after;

“At Respond, we have over 20 years of experience in the delivery of high quality Early Learning and School Age care. We have 16 services nationally, this will be our 17th, across 11 counties. Of these 12 are Early Year Services and 5 are standalone school age services. We provide the full range of services from full day care, part-time care, pre-school and school age care with over 500 children accessing our service daily. Our services are located in the heart of communities where we feel we can have the biggest impact and serve both the local and wider community. This is all supported by our wider organisation structure where we have a dedicated compliance team supporting all of our services in meeting our regulatory and quality requirements and standards”.

Part of how Respond creates this impact is through the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), which is geared towards creating more diversity in pre-school settings. “Our AIM programme, which is funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, supports children with a disability to participate in their pre-school programme alongside their peers, in the communities they live in,” Lisa explains. “This gives the children a greater sense of belonging and helps them build a positive self-image which we know is the foundation for achieving better outcomes across all areas of their development.” 

Another key aspect of how Respond prioritise children’s development is through their play-based curriculum, which aims to make learning fun; “A play-based curriculum allows children to learn through their natural flow of imagination and curiosity,” Lisa says. “Allowing children to lead their play intuitively means that they engage longer in their learning and this creates greater opportunities for practitioners to identify areas that may stretch their thinking to higher levels. The seasons provide such rich resources to extend children’s learning that the indoor and outdoor learning environments are of equal importance at Respond. I think Covid also reinforced the incredible resources that nature provides, for grown-ups too!”

As much as the children and parents get out of Respond’s services, however, Lisa says it’s just as worthwhile for Respond’s staff. “After 17 years of working with Respond I feel extremely grateful to still be able to say that I love my job. I feel privileged to witness the incredible dedication and commitment of our teams in ensuring each child receives the best early education experience. While those of us working in the sector always recognised and valued the professional expertise within the sector, I think Covid really demonstrated to the wider society just how essential the ECCE sector is to improving outcomes for children and maintaining a thriving economy.”

To find out how the expert Respond team can help your child, head to www.respond.ie.

If you're interested in enrolling your child in Carraig Liath, you can call Dorota Przygoda on either of the numbers below.

Telephone: 0214613022 Mobile: 0877440069.

Respond Early Years Carraig Liath, Respond Community Building, Carraig Liath, Castleredmond, Midleton P25TN59, Co.Cork

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