The 2018 Western Childcare Partnership Conference was held in Omagh on 22nd March. More than 70 early years representatives attended from local day care nurseries, Sure Start projects, preschool and school aged childcare groups.
A special tribute was paid to Gerry Conway, Commissioning Lead for Early Years and Family Support at the Health and Social Care Board, who passed away on 7th January 2018. Gerry’s colleagues and partners from the Western Area Childcare Partnership welcomed Gerry’s wife Jackie to the event to accept their tribute. Gerry was a respected member of the Western Childcare Partnership since its inception in 1999 and served as the Chairperson from 2008 to 2015. His contribution to the work of the Western Childcare Partnership, and in recent years the four NI Childcare Partnerships, has been invaluable in highlighting the importance of supporting parents and children during the early years of life.
Key messages on the day included the central role of parents and families to a child’s development during the early years of life as the child’s first caregiver, model and educator. Leading early years experts presented on how maternal and child health during and after pregnancy and the home environment all influence the child’s development.
Speaking at the event, Danny Cassidy, Western Childcare Partnership Vice Chair said: “I am delighted to welcome our early years and childcare experts today as we take this opportunity to share information and best practice in the Early Years and Childcare sectors. This event demonstrates how statutory agencies and voluntary and community organisations can work and learn together to ensure that the foundations for learning are laid for both professionals and children alike. I would like to thank the staff from the Western Area Childcare Partnership, Sure Starts and all Early Years and Childcare organisations in the Western area for their participation and contributions which ensured this event was a great success.”
The aim of this yearly event is to share knowledge, information and best practice on a variety of ways that the Early Years and Childcare sectors can support parents and families. The Early Years and Childcare sectors provide a vital role in providing the networks, structures and wider physical environment which support parents in raising happy, healthy, confident individuals.
Participants shared their wealth of experience in highlighting the value of supporting parents and children in the early years of a child’s life and in ensuring the best health and developmental outcomes for the children of the Western area.
Guest speakers at the event were: Marie Blaney and Deirdre McLaughlin from Connected for Life, Sheena Funston from the Western Trust, Chris Briggs from Employers for Childcare, Aine Andrews from Altram (Irish Language Group), Melanie O’Kane from Cornabracken Childcare Ltd (Omagh), Patricia Lewsley-Mooney from the NICMA.
Click here for further information from the event or to learn more about the work of the Western Area Childcare Partnership or contact Maura Mason, Manager of the Western Area Childcare Partnership on 028 9536 1043 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.