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Early Years’ Service

At Catkins Early Years’ Service, a key worker approach system is implemented in all rooms in our service, where an early year’s professional is assigned to a group of children at the start of term and work with these children carrying out observations and planning from their emerging interests to help extend and encourage future learning.

In 2019 we achieved a certificate of validation for Síolta the National Quality Framework, with a quality rating of level 4. Level 4 is the highest possible rating and signifies “comprehensive evidence of quality”. Our service received the quality rating of 4 in every single category throughout all 16 standard and 75 components. We are the first and only service in Co. Longford to achieve this so far!

We have five early years’ rooms operating in our service, three rooms in our main building and two in the prefabs to the rear of our building. All rooms have direct access to their own outdoor play area, which has inviting areas to provide playful experiences for all children. The children attending our service go outside every day. We have covered canopy areas for when the weather is poor that children can still enjoy outdoor experiences, with a variety of surfaces including all- weather areas to ensure they get outdoors daily. Other inviting designated areas are also present to allow children to explore and play happily.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” ― Alfred Wainwright.

The prefabs at the rear of the building are well designed, with inviting areas for all children. One prefab has a specifically designated dining room where the children who attend full day care can separate meal times from play times. The other prefab has a purpose built sensory room that is beneficial for all children, and they all have access to use this space.

We have a large garden to the rear of the building, with a polytunnel that grows nutritious fruit and vegetables that we use in meal preparations for the children in our service. The children are welcomed to join the gardener where they can watch and learn about plants and flowers, and how they grow.

Our service provides care for children aged from 4 months to 5 years. We offer full day care, sessional care, and a Drop In service if the place is available (this needs to be pre-booked) We operate from 8am-5:30pm daily for 49 weeks of the year(closed two weeks in August & one week at Christmas). Our ECCE Service (sessional care) operates from 09:30am-12:30pm for 38 weeks a year in line with local primary schools.

We use the Little Vista family app as a way of communicating with parents ,this free app for parents gives real time details and updates about the child’s activities, nutrition, sleeping, nappy changes, medical administration etc. allowing parents to monitor their child’s routine closely

We have highly trained, qualified early year’s professionals working in all rooms in Catkins Early Years’ Service, who are continually upskilling and participating in various continuous professional development (CPD) training to welcome your child and family into our service daily.

Catkins Early Years’ Service is located in the Longford Womens Link Organisation at Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford town, N39H6R7. We have our own private car park where drop off and collections are made easy for parents or authorised collectors.

Our Team

All early years professionals in Catkins Early Years’ Service are employed not only for their qualifications and experiences but also for the friendly and warm way they meet and greet children and their families on a daily basis. Some staff are employed through the community employment scheme here in Catkins. All staff included in the adult: child ratio have QQI level 5 qualification as a minimum, some staff are still in training while others have achieved Degrees or Masters level of education. A full staff profile is available in all rooms that they work, with their identifying photograph.

All early years professionals participate in FAR (First Aid Response), Manual Handling, Fire Safety, and Child Protection training on an ongoing basis and these are always kept up to date and renewed when needed. Other professionals participate in various other CPD training that is listed on their profiles in the rooms.

Our Rooms

The Baby Room

Our baby room can cater for 10 children at a time from 6 months to 2 years. Our Baby Room strives to be a “home away from home”. We understand how hard it can be for parents/guardians to hand over the care of their baby for the first time. Our dedicated and experienced professionals try to make this adjustment as easy as possible. We provide a personal level of care and attention to all babies in our care.

Babies in our care enjoy fun and exciting days that include a variety of activities such as sand, art, water, singing, sensorial play etc. We also aim to go outdoors with the babies every day for some time. Children in our baby room (under 2 years old) have their own garden to play in where the older children won’t bump into them or knock them over, however they can still see and chat to the older children through the fence.

Our experienced, qualified staff work in conjunction with parents. Our baby room has a separate sleep room from their play room. The sleep room is the place where each child has their own cot. This room provides a soothing, calm, atmosphere where your baby may nap as they need it.

The play room, in contrast, provides a colourful and stimulating environment, where there is a vast variety of age appropriate toys and equipment which will meet every baby’s overall developmental needs in a homely, cosy environment.

The Junior Preschool Room

Our Junior Preschool room can cater for 16 children at a time from age 2yrs -3 yrs. At Catkins we understand that children learn and discover the world through play. Our Junior Preschool room has a happy and relaxed atmosphere where the children are encouraged to develop their physical, intellectual, social and emotional skills. The primary challenge for a child at this stage is to develop advanced communication skills and to explore social and behavioural boundaries. At Catkins we support and facilitate this development by providing a more structured environment while at the same time encouraging each child to express his/her own personality through imaginative and creative play.

At Catkins we constantly encourage development through various fun activities. Our curriculum strives to challenge each individual child and to promote self-esteem, concentration and positive behaviour.
In the Junior Pre-School room the staff work closely with each child to prepare them for the more advanced ECCE environment.

Our ECCE Rooms

The ECCE Free Preschool scheme offers care for children for 3 hours per day, for age appropriate children. All children are entitled to 2 full academic years on the ECCE scheme. Children are eligible to start the ECCE scheme in the September of the year that they turn 3 years old. Our current ECCE hours are 9:30-12:30, for 38 weeks in the year.

We currently have three ECCE rooms, known as Buttercups (the one in the main building) & Daisies and Poppies (at the rear of the main building, in the prefabs) The one in the main building has changing facilities if the child is not fully toilet trained, and this rooms can cater for 22 children every day. Then we have one room each in both prefabs, these rooms can cater for 11 children each day. Our ECCE rooms provide a safe, caring, supportive, well-planned, resourced and stimulating environment where child grow and learn and develop from their emerging interests.

Ensuring that all children have ample opportunity to develop holistically and are confident and school ready at the end of their time at Catkins is the long term goal for the children in these rooms. Children enjoy a full programme of planned and spontaneous activities each day. The ECCE preschool concentrates on flexible child centred enjoyable group time where each child is encouraged to take part in all activities.

Poppies room at Catkins

Poppies room

Buttercups Room at Catkins

Buttercups room

Daisies room at Catkins

Daisies room

Our Outdoors

Outdoor play is part of our daily routine for all children in our service and this is an opportunity for children to exercise, form social connections and play large muscle games. Both the indoor and outdoor environment have benefits to children’s learning, however the outdoors offers a unique environment that is significantly different to the indoor environment. The outdoors has greater space and allows for freedom of movement and is especially supportive of play.

Our outdoor space is an extension of the indoor rooms and features similar designated areas to the indoors. The outdoors includes various developmentally appropriate play areas that will promote a range of learning experiences and will ensure the safety of the children whist at the same time offering the opportunity to maximum skill development.

Baby Room Garden

Baby Room Garden

Daisies Garden

Daisies Garden

Buttercups Garden

Buttercups Garden

Poppies Garden

Poppies Garden

Each room has their own play garden covered in a variety of surfaces ensuring children are safe while running and playing in the outdoors. We have designated areas outdoors where children can freely choose what and where they would like to play with offering a variety of wheeled toys. The canopy areas in the garden also allows for the children to get outdoors every day for exercise even when raining.

Junior Pre Garden

Junior Pre Garden

Our Sensory Room

The sensory room is located in the last prefab at the rear of the main building, and it is available to every child in the service. We are very fortunate to have this relaxing quiet space for the children, where they can go in small groups of 3-4 to gain the full benefit of it. This space is particularly beneficial for children who may have additional needs as it gives them a special place to escape and unwind and feel safe and secure.

sensory room
sensory room

Statement of Purpose & Function

Catkins Early Years’ Service at Longford Women’s Link is a not for profit venture which operates as a service to the community. Sub vented rates are available via support from the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) through the ECCE (Free Preschool Year) scheme and the NCS (National Childcare Scheme).This policy is underwritten by the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 and the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) to comply with the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018. Our policies and procedures together with our parental handbook inform the work of the service, and these are available to all parents, children, staff and stakeholders at all times at notice boards or upon request.

Setting Details

Name of SettingCatkins Early Years’ Service
AddressWillow House, Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford Town. Longford.
Contact PersonAli McKeon
Position in SettingChildcare Manager
Contact Telephone Number(s)043 3341511 / 085 8007252
Type of ServiceFull Day Care, & Sessional. We also provide a Drop In Service when available.
Community or PrivateCommunity Service
Programme of Activities followed – offered to children.Play based care through Síolta National Quality Framework & Aistear Early Years Curriculum Framework
Number of weeks open49 (Full Day Care) & 38 (ECCE Free Preschool)
Opening hours8am- 5:30pm (Full Day Care) & 09:30am-5:30pm (ECCE Free Preschool)
Age of children cared forChildren from 6 months to 5yrs.
Number of children service can care for70


Description of Setting

Adult/ Child Ratio

0-1 Years1:3
1-2 Years1:5
2-3 Years1:6
3-6 Years1:8
3-6 Years (sessional)1:11