Starting a Parent, Baby and Toddler group
Decide on how the group is to be organised
This can be as simple as deciding whether one person or a committee takes on the task of organising the group.
The major advantage of a committee is that by sharing the work no one person is left to do it all and it can also provide continuity if a key member leaves.
Holding an AGM every January may be a useful way of ensuring the continuity of the group.
This can be anywhere you are able to find a suitable space with regular availability, for example, a community centre, room in a health centre, sports hall, band hall or purpose built structure.
You will need adequate space and facilities for the storage of toys and materials.
If your group has more than 35 children on any given morning and your venue has a floor space of approximately 150 square metres, Early Childhood Ireland can offer the appropriate insurance cover, at a very reasonable rate.
Extra places, up to a ceiling of 40 children, may be insured through Early Childhood Ireland Group Insurance Scheme, provided that the floor space available is increased proportionally.
You need Public Liability Insurance of at least €2,600,000. Check with your Insurer to confirm that all the group’s activities are covered, including once-off events.
Notify the health service executive
You are not obliged to notify the local Health Service Executive of the existence of your group, but it may be advisable and in your interest to do so.
Notifying the local Health Service Executive could also provide a useful contact point for new parents in the area.
Looking for funding
There are several different bodies and organisations you could contact about the possibility of securing funding, for instance:
Toys and Equipment
The general equipment required could include the following:
The toys and equipment specific to the various age groups could include:
For babies: A safe area or baby haven, with soft flooring, soft toys, rattles, coloured bricks and activity centres
For Crawlers: If the space permits, a larger area could be cordoned off with, for instance, roll-along toys, cars, dolls, cloth books, shape sorters, stacking toys and rocking toys.
For toddlers and older children: Appropriate toys could include dolls, teddies, prams and push-chairs, sit-and-ride toys, a garage with cars, simple jigsaws, building blocks, dress-up clothes such as hats and bags, a toy kitchen, colourful books, playdough, paint, collage and drawing equipment.
Sand and water play also provide good developmental opportunities, but require even closer supervision.
Introductory information for new parents and carers
Basic introductory information could be provided to newcomers by means of a welcoming letter, including the following pieces of information:
Tasks for the day-to-day running of the group could be put on job cards, which would then be distributed to each adult upon their arrival. The cards could include some of the following tasks:
Health and Safety
Your Parent, Baby and Toddler Group should identify all health and safety hazards; eliminate them where possible and reduce them if they cannot be eliminated.
You need to put in place a simple Health and Safety Plan and make sure that everyone is aware of it. Often the best way of doing this is to:
You need to check that these steps have been taken and to regularly monitor health and safety. An Accident/Incident Book to record all accidents and near misses is essential.
If you have an employee, a Health and Safety Statement has to be completed under Health and Safety Legislation and you must have Employers Liability Insurance. You should also be aware that you must fulfill all your legal responsibilities as an employer.
Children being transported in cars do so at the invitation of the owner and the insurance situation needs to be clarified with the car insurers. If transporting children in cars or minibuses, it is strongly recommended that the children should always be secured by safety belts and appropriate child seating.
Remember – safety in the group is the responsibility of all the members.
Ask your local Fire Officer to check the building you intend to use and to advise you about fire drills and other fire safety issues.
You will need to obtain a copy of “Fire Safety in Pre-Schools”, which you can download from the Environment, Community and Local Government website or you can contact the government publications office directly at the following address:
Government Publications Office,
Courses, Outings and Parties
You will probably need regularly to advertise your Parent, Baby and Toddler Group in places such as local Health Centres, Doctors’ Surgeries, Shops, Shopping Centres, Libraries, Post Offices, Churches, Pre-schools, Primary Schools and local newspapers.
It would also be a good idea to ask your local Public Health Nurse to promote the group.
Parent, Baby and Toddler Groups normally operate in conjunction with Primary Schools’ terms and holidays.
Source: Early Childhood Ireland