Policy in Action 16 April 2024

Policy in Action 16 April 2024

In recent months, the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate has provided a number of regulatory notices and updates which have sought to make implementation of the regulations more straightforward and flexible, and provide transparency and accountability to the inspection process. These changes are often flagged for providers on the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate website, along with other Regulatory Notices. This is a useful resource for providers and educators alike, and recent updates have included guidance on outdoors, sleep and the new Inspection Findings Review. Throughout these processes, Early Childhood Ireland engaged with our members to ensure that member expertise and experience was included in feedback to policymakers.

Recent Tusla updates
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As of February 2024, Tusla have commenced the implementation of an Inspection Findings Review process to all inspections undertaken after that date. Inspection Findings Review refers to process applied if the registered provider disagrees with inspection findings as per the draft inspection report. This process fits into the Draft Inspection Report response process as below:

The Correction and Preventive Action (CAPA) process remains ongoing at the same time as the Inspection Findings Review process. Corrective and preventive actions will be requested for all non-compliances identified in the draft inspection report which are not subject to an Inspection Findings Review process. Non-compliances which remain as non-compliances following the outcome of the Inspection Findings Review process, will then be subject to the CAPA process.

This process should now make it easier for registered providers to challenge findings during the Inspection process that they believe may be incorrect. Moreover, this process allows for further transparency and user-friendliness during inspections. More information on this process can be found on Tusla’s website.

These changes are also in addition to recent developments regarding When the Roof is the Sky outdoors guidance and Guidance for the Early Learning and Care sector on sleep provision for children under 24 months that have been issued by Tusla in recently months.

Our engagement
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Early Childhood Ireland has engaged extensively with both our members and Tusla in relation to inspections, and how our members interact with the response process. Members from the team regularly participate in the Tusla Regulatory Support Forum as well as the Consultative Forum, and we also offer feedback on these changes and well as discuss possible changes with Tusla and our members.

Early Childhood Ireland also engaged thoroughly with our members regarding the aforementioned sleep changes and the outdoors. In the lead up to the Sleep Guidance, Early Childhood Ireland convened eight monthly Member Reference Groups. These groups consisted of Early Years settings owners and managers, full time, part time and sessional, that provided their experience and expertise on children’s sleep, how the sleep requirements affected quality for children and how these could be improved. Following the completion of these groups, feedback was provided to Tusla on the new sleep guidance. Moreover, in the leadup to the issuance of When the Roof is the Sky, Early Childhood Ireland spoke and consulted regularly with members through focus groups and interviews, and presented the views gathered to stakeholders and policymakers through our advocacy and through a specific conference on Valuing Outdoor Play.

Conclusion
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Early Childhood Ireland is always open to constructive feedback and engagement with our members on matters concerning quality for children in their settings or improving the system and the safeguarding of children. If you have any questions or queries about our work or wish to raise an issue that you feel is impacting children, please contact policy@earlychildhoodireland.ie.

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