Policy in Action 14 May 2024

Policy in Action 14 May 2024

In May, Early Childhood Ireland participated in a Tusla Consultative and Regulatory Support Forum. This forum is made up of organisations that provide support and advice to Early Years and School Age Care providers on the implementation of the Regulations. At this forum a number of interesting updates were provided by Tusla on their ongoing work, particularly in the areas of Childminding and School Age Care (SAC) regulations.

School Age Care

The Tusla Early Years Inspectorate (EYI) noted that there are currently 2,535 SAC services registered in the state. These were broken down further to nine SAC Childminding services, 1,684 combined Early Years and SAC services and 842 standalone SAC services.

The Inspectorate stated that the inspection process for SAC is developing but currently SAC services will only be inspected if a) Tusla become aware of issues i.e. if an inspector at a combined EY and SAC setting has concerns or b) if Feedback or Concerns are raised that require further investigation. However inspections have been conducted based on this, and more information on SAC inspections and be found on the Tusla website.

Current Tusla inspections can only be guided by the current registration regulations, but it was reported that the Inspectorate can inspect under article 58G of the Child Care 1991 Act: It shall be the duty of every person providing an early years service to take all reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of children attending the service and to comply with regulations made by the Minister under this Part. This provides the inspectorate with a greater flexibility when assessing ratios and supervision in settings.

Childminding

The Tusla EYI is undertaking a number of actions to ensure that they are in a good position to begin implementing the Childminding Regulations that are due to be legislated for in 2024. These actions include:

  • Finalising what Fit-For-Purpose inspections for Childminding services will entail.
  • Resourcing the EYI in advance of the registration project, to ensure that childminders are registered in a timely manner.
  • Finalising the ICT programme for this, and all registrations will be processes through a specific Tusla Portal.
  • Finalising the regulatory requirements for childminders.

Early Childhood Ireland looks forward to further updates on the regulation of childminders, and you can read our recent Submission on the Draft Childminding Regulations on our website.

Other Tusla Projects

Policy updating: There is a project underway to update the Tusla template policies and policy guidelines for services. This will work on all 22 policies for Early Years (EY) services, as there had been no update since 2018. The policy updating will also encompass information on the rights of the child and this will stand apart as separate info document. Tusla have noted that there is a strong emphasis on children being included in policy development process, and this is something that should be considered by providers when drafting and reviewing policies.

Registration Renewal/Re-Registration: Over 4,000 EY and SAC services will be due for registration renewal in 2025. Tusla noted that previous delays to successful renewal have included declarations not being signed and Garda Vetting being older than 36 months and advised that these should be kept in mind by providers.

Warm weather: Tusla noted that they have a campaign around hot weather, which here is further information about on the Tusla website.

If you have any questions or queries about our work, please contact policy@earlychildhoodireland.ie

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