Find out all you need to know about Tusla, DES and Pobal inspections, and compliance.
Since 30th June 2016, Early Years Services in Ireland have been regulated by the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016. These regulations comprise of statutory requirements in legislation which must be met by any person carrying on an early years service as per the definition of the regulations. The regulations may be found at the following link.
Tusla, the Child and Family agency, is responsible for the registration and inspection of Early Years Services by the Early Years Inspectorate. These inspections are carried out to measure compliance with the regulations by a member of the inspectorate, without advanced notice. In the event of non-compliance on one or more aspects of the inspection, the early years service provider is obliged to complete and submit a Corrective and Preventative Actions (CAPA) form. More information is available on the inspection and registration process for early years services.
Tusla have also published a Q&A document of questions asked to the early years inspectorate, which may be of benefit to you.
Tusla has published a new guidance document on sleep provision for children under 24 months, you can view the document Here. Inspections relating to these updated guidelines will commence from 1st of September 2023.
Regulations requiring the registration of school-age childcare services came into effect on 18th February 2019 with the publication of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018.
Childcare services for school-age children must now register with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. School-age childcare services had not, to date, been subject to registration, so this is a significant step forward in ensuring quality school-age childcare. New services must apply for registration at least 3 months before opening.
The National Quality Guidelines for School Age Childcare (SAC) Comprehensive Regulations and Quality Standards is available on the Department’s website.
School-age childcare services can find more information online at www.tusla.ie.
The Tusla Early Years Inspectorate has developed a Quality and Regulatory Framework (QRF), to support registered Early Years Services to comply with the 2016 Regulations. The QRF does this by setting out the core regulatory requirements in a transparent way, bringing together evidence-based, national and international research and best practice in Early Years. The QRF aims to support registered providers in achieving compliance with the regulations and enhance the safety and care of children who attend these services. The QRF is child-centred, with a specific focus on the quality and safety of the care provided directly to children using the services.
To find a relevant QRF to the particular service offered please access below:
The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 provide a statutory basis for the vetting of persons carrying out relevant work with children or vulnerable persons. The Act also creates offences and penalties for persons who fail to comply with its provisions.
The Act stipulates that a relevant organisation shall not permit any person to undertake relevant work or activities on behalf of the organisation, unless the organisation receives a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau in respect of that person.
Garda vetting is conducted on behalf of registered organisations only and is not conducted for individual persons on a personal basis.
If you are seeking employment or intending to volunteer with an organisation which conducts relevant work, you may be asked to make an application to be vetted.
For full details click Here.
On 11th December 2017 Minister Katherine Zappone announced the commencement of all remaining provisions of the Children First Act 2015. These include the provisions in relation to mandatory reporting of child abuse and in relation to placing a legal obligation on organisations providing services to children, including Early Years Services, to prepare and publish a Child Safeguarding Statement. Tusla have also developed a resource to support Early Years Service Providers in relation to their obligations under the new legislation.
This and more information may be found below;
Cosaint Leanaí, Child Safeguarding is a website full of Child Safeguarding resources and supports for the Early Learning and Care sector. The National Child Safeguarding Programme website for Early Learning and Care was launched in 2020. Leanaí
Cosaint Leanaí, Child Safeguarding website can be accessed here.
Department of Education Early Years Education Focused Inspections
The Department of Education and Skills (DES) carries out Education Years Education focused Inspections (EYEI) for services who are participating in the ECCE scheme. This inspection evaluates the quality, nature and range of appropriateness of educational experience for children attending the free preschool years. The inspection is announced to the provider in advance, and is carried out by observation of the inspector in relation to the children’s learning, processes and practices in the educational environment within the early years setting. You can find the link to A Guide to Early Years Education Inspection Here. A report is then furnished to the service, and these are also published online at the following link.
In January 2018, the Department of Education and Department of Children and Youth Affairs jointly published a review of the Early Years Education focused Inspections. The report of which is available here.
Pobal is the agency responsible for administering the DCEDIY childcare funding schemes. They carry out inspection visits to early years services in receipt of state funding to ensure compliance around the adherence to proscribed conditions of their funding contracts. Further information around Pobal’s involvement with Early Childhood Services and funding compliance visits are available here.
Information on ECCE Compliance can be found here on the Early Years Hive.
Compliance Guide for Service Providers for Saver Programmes can be found on the PIP Portal.
All places of work are subject to certain regulation and inspection from bodies which include, but are not limited to:
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), formerly known as NERA – the National Employment Rights Agency, who may carry out inspections to ensure compliance with equality and employment-related legislation.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) inspects business places to ensure compliance with the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.
Fire Safety Regulation
Fire Safety in Ireland is governed under the Fire Services Acts 1981 & 2003, and the licensing acts.
Kilkenny County Council hold a monitoring and regulatory role relating to inspections, recommendations and actions in respect of existing and proposed buildings.
The role is carried out through its input into the planning function, processing Fire Safety Certificates under the Building Control Act and associated Regulations and inspection of existing buildings under the Fire Services Acts 1981 & 2003 and the Licensing Acts. More information can be found here.
You may also find the following resource helpful: Fire Safety in Preschools.
On Premises where food is prepared, or served, the Environmental Health Officer may inspect jointly on behalf of the Food Standards Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the HSE, to ensure food standards, safety, and hygiene.