Government approves proposals to strengthen enforcement powers of the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate and pave the way to regulate childminders

Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, has
today secured Government approval to bring forward legislative amendments in relation
to the enforcement powers of the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate.
The proposals brought to Cabinet by the Minister seek to ensure that Tusla has the
appropriate enforcement powers to address serious non-compliance with the Regulations by
early learning and childcare services and that parents have access to information in relation
to the quality of these services.

The proposals arise from a review of the enforcement powers of the regulator which was
instigated in 2019 following an RTÉ Investigates Programme which made allegations of
serious and significant breaches of regulations in three early learning and childcare services.
The review has been informed by a comprehensive public consultation, ongoing consultation
with Tusla, and research in relation to regulatory oversight in other jurisdictions and in other
sectors in Ireland. The report on the public consultation is being finalised at present and the
Minister intends to publish the report in the coming months.
Measures being proposed include new powers to allow Tusla to immediately close
unregistered early learning and childcare services, to temporarily suspend registered services
where there are concerns about significant risk to children, to share information on
enforcement action with parents, to place some additional enforcement measures on a
legislative footing, and to introduce a “Fit Person” regulation.

Minister O’Gorman also received approval for proposals to change the legal status of
childminders, which would make possible the future regulation of childminders and allow for
access to the National Childcare Scheme to be opened in future to parents who use registered
childminders, in line with the National Action Plan for Childminding 2021-2028. The National
Action Plan for Childminding sets out an incremental and supportive pathway to regulation,
subsidies and supports for childminders. An Inspection and Regulation Expert Advisory Group
has been established to scope out the content of the childminding regulations. It is intended
that the Minister will bring draft childminding-specific regulations to Government for
consideration later this year with a view to bringing them into force at a later date.

Speaking today, Minister O’Gorman said:
“The safety and protection of children remains a priority of Government. Key to ensuring this
is the enforcement of Regulations which have children at the heart of their implementation.
“I think it is important to emphasise that the intention of the proposals which I have brought
to Government today is not to increase enforcement action but instead streamline it where
appropriate and address some of the limitations of the current legislation, making the
enforcement process more effective and so improving overall compliance with Regulations
within the early learning and childcare sector.
“Amending the legislation to bring the policy proposals to fruition will also provide an
opportunity to address the exemption from regulation for childminders which is currently
included in the legislation. This will pave the way for the introduction of appropriate and
proportionate childminder-specific regulations in the future. Future regulation and support of
childminders will help to recognise the valuable role childminders play and the service they
provide for children and families. Importantly, it will also pave the way to open up the National
Childcare Scheme to childminders, extending subsidies under this Scheme to families who use