Recently, colleagues from the Dublin City University’s (DCU) Early Childhood Research Centre presented on the second phase of the TOY for Inclusion project at the international research conference EECERA.
Dr. Gillian Lake, Prof. Mathias Urban, Dr. Geraldine French, Fiona Giblin and Therese Farrell presented the conceptual framework for the impact evaluation of the project’s second phase during the conference in Greece.
Over the next 18 months, they will be collecting data in countries where the project supports inclusive, multigenerational play spaces for young children and their families. These countries are Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.
Through these Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Play Hubs, TOY for Inclusion aims to:
- Increase access to inclusive and quality ECEC settings for harder to reach children, especially migrant and ethnic minority children (0-6)
- Increase the knowledge and skills of educators, leaders of educational institutions, practitioners from the health sector, carers and local policymakers
- Embed nonformal ECEC services in local educational policies
Additionally, the project plans to provide implications for policy and share a global perspective on inclusive early childhood services through a local lens.
The Conceptual Framework
DCU’s impact evaluation draws upon Fetterman’s (2012) theory of empowerment evaluation. It is an emerging framework that is responsive to local needs. The framework uses cycles of reflection and action by the providers and service users themselves — providing data on shared understandings of local impact.
The framework’s guiding question is, “how can concrete, diverse, and inevitably specific local experiences can be framed?”
Learning at the systems level can occur without losing the richness and diversity ‘on the ground’ to surface-level generalizability. Seen within a systemic perspective, the challenge for policy and governance at all levels is to abandon linear but simplistic understandings of implementation and to enable circular processes instead.