Childcare Legislation and Tusla Requirements
The DCEDIY has overall responsibility for regulations governing early years services.
Early years services in Ireland must abide by the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016.
All early years services must be registered with Tusla before commencing operations*.
*As of February 2019, services providing school-age childcare services must also be registered with Tusla.
- School-age services are governed by the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018 (pdf).
Registration of services with Tusla must be completed at least 90 days prior to commencement of operations (for temporary services, the limit is 21 days).
Overview of Inspection Types
The Tusla Early Years Inspectorate carries out an inspection of services.
- Note: Tusla works to its own inspection schedule, but services that had a poor inspection will be inspected quicker than one that was fully compliant. Inspections may also be brought forward if Tusla receives unsolicited information or if a notified incident has occurred in the service.
The Department of Education and Skills carries out inspections focused on the quality of children’s educational experiences.
Pobal also carries out an inspection focused on compliance with DCYA childcare funding schemes
Initial (Pre-Registration) inspection
Tusla will complete a fit-for-purpose inspection before the registration of the service.
The service must be set up exactly as it would be for children using the service for this inspection.
Inspection by Tusla Early Years Inspectorate
All early years services in Ireland are inspected for compliance with the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016.
In order to evaluate compliance, Tusla looks at areas including (but not limited to) the following –
- Management and recruitment
- Staffing levels
- Information and records
- Health, welfare, and child development
- Facilities for rest and play
- First Aid
- Fire safety
The complete Tusla toolkit for inspections can be found here.
A Regulatory Inspection report outlining the findings of the inspection is then prepared. This is based on information obtained through examinations of documents, direct observation, and discussion with staff.
If significant risk is identified upon inspection, an immediate action notice is issued to the registered provider very soon after the inspection.
Factual accuracies: Services have an opportunity to correct any factual inaccuracies and request a review of any disputed findings in the draft report. Supporting evidence must be provided. The factual accuracy form and supporting documentation must be returned to the Early Years Inspector within 10 working days of receipt of the draft report.
Corrective and Preventive Action: Where any areas of non-compliance have been identified, these must be addressed by the service through certain defined actions. These actions will help the service to meet regulatory requirements.
Services can complete a Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) Form in response to the inspection report. There are two components:
- Corrective Action(s): action(s) taken to rectify or eliminate the non-compliance.
- Preventive Action(s): ongoing action(s), if any, required to ensure the non-compliance does not recur.
Evidence must be provided of the corrective and preventive actions taken to eliminate the non-compliance.
The report is then presented to the Registration Panel for consideration of a decision in relation to the service receiving continued registration.