Local day care centre wins EA approval in landmark decision

February 19, 2018

A local day care centre has become the first non-nursery unit in the Southern region to receive  approval by the Education Authority (EA) to provide additional support to a child with a Statement of Educational Needs (SEN). 

Daisychain Day Care in Culloville achieved the stamp of approval from the EA after a hard fought battle presenting their case for the child to complete its preschool year at the rural day care facility, having been there since the age of nine months.

Proprietor and manager of Daisychain, Lucy Deery, says the achievement represents a major breakthrough for private settings being accepted as equal to school nursery units in their capacity to provide additional education support.

Speaking to The Examiner about the much-welcomed decision, Lucy explained how the journey had begun when she and her staff began to work along with the child’s parents, signposting and referring them in the right direction to access professional assessments when their child began experiencing developmental difficulties at the age of 14 months. 

After securing a Statement of Educational Needs and a diagnosis, which Lucy says “the parents fought so hard for”, they were then faced with the decision of where to send their child for preschool as they had been advised by the Education Authority that private providers such as Daisychain would not qualify for providing support to the child.  The parents were told the child would have to attend an EA-affiliated School Nursery Unit, otherwise the Statement would be put on hold for primary one.

“The parents were adamant that they were going to stick to their guns and let the child have their preschool education where they were settled, happy and everything was familiar to them here at Daisychain,” reveals Lucy, who explained that transitions to new settings can be especially difficult for children with additional needs and can have detrimental effect on their development. 

She subsequently wrote to the board outlining “that there are no differences between our setting and the nursery units. We are funded by the same board and provide an identical curriculum.”

“We have staff holding Early Years degrees which leave them qualified to implement any strategies needed to support any child in their care.”

Lucy added that an ETI inspection in November 2016 provided a wealth of evidence that Daisychain is well equipped and able to provide the additional support that children need. 

After a protracted campaign to prove their commitment and ability to offer additional support, official confirmation was received earlier this month that Daisychain Day Care was to become the first non-nursery unit in the Southern region to be approved for providing the support required on a SEN. 

“This is rarely heard of in places where you don’t have a school nursery unit,” said Lucy who added that the decision opens up doors to access more training and resources which up to now Daisychain was not entitled to receive. 

“This has caused a major shift in the Education Authority and it enables us to be considered going forward to provide this additional support to children of parents that would prefer a smaller, more intimate environment for their children’s preschool education. 

“Ultimately this means we are getting the recognition we deserve as being a quality provider and it makes it all worthwhile. The hoops that the parents and ourselves had to jump through to deem us worthy were exceptional but in the end completely worth it,” said the proud day care provider. 

“The board were depriving parents and others like them, the right of choice, of where they wanted their child to attend but thanks to this couple standing by their child and what was best for them they made this breakthrough.”

Lucy says the parents are “delighted” with the decision and their child’s progress to date at Daisychain. 

“Going forward this is an enormous achievement for us. It most certainly identifies South Armagh as an area of social deprivation with little or no resources and support accessible to families that truly deserve them. In recent years there has been a steady increase of children needing additional support with limited availability and huge oversubscription in this particular area. Thankfully with this decision passed we are moving forward, at long last.”

Lucy says she and her team owe a huge thanks to the parents of the child for “sticking with us and giving us the opportunity to work with them and their child. I will be forever indebted to them for having the faith in us to succeed.”