SAOL BeAG - Our Children’s Centre
The pictures below are of the children being busy bee’s doing the Storyboard for the month of May. We're taking a new story every month and making a display of the story for all to see.
SAOL Beag is an Early Education programme for children whose parents are in treatment for drug addiction. Most of the children’s parents are participants on the main adult women’s education programme. These women are from the North East Inner City and are engaged in a methadone maintenance programme. The focus for the adults is on education as this is seen as one of the key elements in working towards recovery.
From time to time places are available to children whose parents engaged with other local drugs projects. As SAOL Beag is one of the few drugs projects in Dublin with a designated Children’s Centre, it has proved to be a valuable resource to the community.
Research has shown that parental drug misuse can and very often does compromise children’s health and overall development at every stage from conception onwards. This can be seen in compromised immune systems, failure to thrive, a wide range of behavioural, cognitive and emotional problems. The children may have experienced great chaos and instability in their lives as a result of their parent’s drug use. Research has also shown that by giving children consistent support and appropriate treatment that these effects can be reduced. This is where the role of good quality early years experience can have a huge impact on a child’s life.
SAOL Beag Children’s Centre believes that all children have the right to access a high quality early years service. The Children’s Centre’s aim is to meet the specific needs of these children by providing such a service. SAOL Beag offers an early education programme through an individualised curriculum and approach to work with the children.
Each child’s interests, strengths and learning goals are identified through regular observation and assessment. This information is then used to plan activities and learning experiences tailored to meet the needs of the individual as well as those of the larger group.
The same approach is taken to the layout and structure of the physical environment. It is regularly reviewed to see how the space is working for the group and to identify any areas that need to be reorganised to extend and develop the children’s play. An integral part of the service to the children is partnership with their parents. This is achieved through regular meetings to discuss their individual child’s strengths and achievements as well as supporting their parenting skills and strengthening their relationships.
Another key element to the early years service that is provided for the children in SAOL Beag is the relationship the children have with the adults that work with them. For this reason, the staff of the Children’s Centre are qualified and experienced in dealing with children and aim to form strong, caring relationships with the children.
The curriculum has been developed in order to address the specific needs of children living with addiction. It incorporates elements of Montessori, High/Scope and Birth to Three Matters. The principals from these models are applied by the staff through the day to day work with the children but also through the way the staff plan learning experiences and the learning environment. These can also be seen in the policies and procedures that the Children’s Centre has implemented. The staff of the Children’s Centre are currently working towards the National Children’s Nurseries Association (NCNA) All Ireland Centre of Excellence Award. This is a national award that recognises quality in early education and childcare services. The children’s centre also use Siolta: The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education as a means of measuring and ensuring the families receive a high quality service.
We also run camps for older children (ages 4-12) when they are off school. Providing a vast array of activities from art to sport to trips and cooking classes, children on school holidays will have fun and and plenty of exciting stories to tell when they go back to class.
Click here to take a look at some of the work the children have been doing in the Children's Centre and during our Summer/Halloween Projects.
Children's Centre Staff
The Children’s Centre team is made up of three people. Each have qualifications and experience in working with children. The staff of the Children’s Centre are an integral part of the service and aim to develop strong relationships with both the child and their family in order to incorporate a whole child approach in their work.
Aishling O'Rourke is the Children's Centre Manager. she has 12 years experience working in both private and community childcare services. Aisling's training has included a B.A. in Applied social Care, Diploma in creche Management and a diploma in Early Childhood Education.
Michelle Keogh is the Childcare Worker in the Children’s Centre. Michelle has completed FETAC Level 5 training Childcare as well as a Introductory Course in Addiction Studies. Michelle has worked in the community and voluntary sector for 5 years and is currently planning on working towards a Level 6 award in Childcare Supervision. Michelle also has extensive experience in working with the 4-12 year old age group as well as the under 4’s.
Nicola Burke is the Voluntary Childcare Assistant. Nicola is currently studying FETAC Level 5 in addiction studies. She has vast experience in working in community creches while she was undertaking her FETAC Level 5 in Childcare.
Siobhan Dowling is our CE Creche worker who is training in childcare, and is building her career in this field.
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing" George Bernard Shaw
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