BetterStart, National Early Years Quality Development Service

Better Start, National Early Years Quality Development Service



Better Start is a national initiative established by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) to bring an integrated national approach to developing quality in Early Years Education and Care (ECEC) for children aged from birth to six years in Ireland. It will coordinate and extend the wide-ranging choice of supports and services already provided through City and County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations. This new initiative will provide a specialist on-site mentoring service. 

Better Start, Quality Development Service, Kildare Update

Over 300 services have engaged with the support of the quality development service nationally, 12 of which are in Kildare. The feedback from services has been really positive and likewise, the specialists have really enjoyed supporting services on their quality development journey.

Our Early Years Specialists currently have capacity to work with new and interested services in Kildare that meet the current criteria.

Five of the Better Start Early Years Specialists working in the Kildare area are Karien Keogh, Rachel Whelan, Jean Kelly, Laura Smullen and Olanike Oladehinde Bello.

They are qualified early childhood professionals with skills and experience built up from working in early years services.


Karien has worked in the ECEC sector for considerable years and brings a varied scope of experience from a   health perspective as well as equal opportunities and diversity to providing advice and support to early years settings



Rachel  has worked in a variety of ECEC settings in Kildare for many years before taking up her post as an early years specialist working for Better Start. She has worked with children ranging in ages from 4 months to school age, in both full day care and sessional services. Her background is in Montessori teaching and more recently implementing a play based curriculum informed by the principles of Aistear.




Jean has worked in the ECEC sector for a number of years working in both community and private services. She has worked as a tutor providing training for QQI Level 5 and 6.




Laura is currently supporting a number of services in the Kildare area. Laura comes with a variety of experience and has worked in both community and private services, working with children and their families, as well as supporting services and early years educators in a mentoring capacity.



Olanike Oladehinde Bello has a level 8 Degree in Early Childhood  Care and Education with 13 years experience of working in private and community early years setting, she is passionate about working in the sector to support quality provision for children and families.



Karien, Rachel, Jean, Laura and Olanike Oladehinde Bello, work with the management and staff to build on service knowledge, strengths and experience in order to enhance the quality of service to young children. The services are supported in action planning and goal setting using the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide.

They will usually visit the service on a weekly or fortnightly basis, over a period of about six months.



Eligibility Criteria


  • 20 children in Full day care and 40 overall - Full Day care may include part-time provision (children attending up to 5 hours per day)
  • Group Providers or Chains
  • There is flexibility to respond to requests in exceptional circumstances, including:
    • Inspection Issues
    • Lack of access to previous quality support
    • Rural/disadvantaged location
    • High staff turnover (ready for a fresh start)
    • Inclusion of children with additional needs

If you are interested in requesting the support of a Better Start Early Years Specialist,
please contact
Kildare County Childcare Committee
045 861307



“My service found the Betterstart Programme to be extremely beneficial both to staff and management. From the start any reservations we had regarding participation in the programme were quickly dispersed as our mentor was nothing but encouraging and helpful. Throughout the process we were encouraged to reflect on every aspect of our practice - to change concepts that were not working well and to improve upon what was working well. I would highly recommend participation in Better Start - we are certainly glad that we did.”

Service Manager, Kildare


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