Types of Childcare Settings

Information about the different types of childcare settings that can be set up.

Types of Childcare Settings

In the initial stages of setting up your business it is important to establish what type of childcare setting you wish to run and what business model best suits your needs.  


Community vs. Private Childcare

There is a broad range of early childcare and education services to choose from, but firstly you will need to decide whether you are considering setting up a community (not for profit) or a private early childhood care setting.

Community Service

A community childcare (not-for-profit) facility is, managed by a voluntary management committee.These types of facilities give preference to families on lower incomes, supporting parents in returning to work or education. Subsidised early childhood care and education is provided with the costs based on a sliding scale, according to the family income.Both community and private ECCE services operate the government funded free preschool year.


Private Service A private early childhood care and education service may be operated by an individual (sole trader), a partnership where two or more individuals set up the ECCE business or a limited company. The main income in a private ECCE service is derived from parents fees, paid directly by parents to the ECCE provider. However private ECCE services also provide the free pre-school year funded by the government.


Different Types of Childcare Services

The different type of childcare services are:-

Full Day Care

A full day care service refers to structured day care for children from babies up to age 13/ 14 years, for more than 5 hours per day and may include a sessional preschool service, breakfast club, and or afterschool club. Some Full Day Care Services open from 7am and remain open until 7pm, depending on the needs of parents in a particular area.




Sessional Services

Sessional services usually refer to a preschool service offering a planned programme to preschool children for no more than 3.5 hours per day for between 38 to 50 weeks per year. A preschool child is a child aged under 6 years who does not attend a primary school.




Part Time Day Care

Part-time day care service means a pre-school service offering a structured day care service for pre-school children for a total of more than 3.5 hours and less than 5 hours per day, which may include a pre school service.




School Age Childcare

This type of service caters for children who are of school-going age. It may include care before school begins, or in the afternoons when school finishes, or both. The service may also cater for children during school holidays. These services are at present not covered by the preschool regulations. They are however covered by other regulations such as health and safety.

It is important to remember that children attending school age childcare settings have very different needs to those attending preschool settings. They play differently, have different interests and their parents have different requirements also.

Please click here for more information on school age childcare

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Childminding in your own home

Childminders minding more than three children in their own home must notify the HSE. A childminder should look after no more than 5 preschool children including their own preschool child. No more than 2 of these children should be less than 15 months old. Exceptions to this can only occur in the case of siblings or multiple births. Childminders catering for 3 or less children can voluntarily notify their childminding service.   However they are under no legal obligation to do so.


If you are thinking of becoming a childminder it will be important to follow the DCYA Guidelines for Childminders Starting up a Business.


Parent and Toddler groups

Parent and toddler groups are local community groups often set up by parents where parents and carers meet up with their children in a local setting to provide opportunities for their children to play with other children and social opportunities for both adults and children. A grant may be available through your local City/County Childcare Committee.


Type of Business

As well as the type of service you intend to run it will be important to establish what type of business you will be running, in wider business context.  The primary business types are as follows:


Sole Trader

It is relatively simple to set up as a sole trader but if your business fails, your personal assets could be used to pay your creditors.

Your main legal obligation is that you must register as a self-employed person with the Revenue Commissioners (have a look at the  ‘Tax and PRSI’ tab in this section). If you wish to use a business name you must register your business name with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).



This is where two or more people agree to run a business in partnership with each other. The partnership agreement should be drawn up by a solicitor. The partners are jointly responsible for running the business and if it fails all partners are jointly responsible for the debt.


Limited Company

If you set up your business as a limited company, the business is a separate legal entity. If the company gets into debt, the creditors generally only have a claim on the assets of the company. The company must be registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) and the company reports and accounts must be returned to the CRO each year. See link

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