Early Years Quality Requirements To Be Strengthened

The quality requirements for early services in Ireland are to be strengthen as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, has reaffirmed her commitment to First 5 (the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families).

Minister Zappone has written to the Chair of Tusla requesting that they outline the necessary changes to strengthen their enforcement powers. Changes are required to speed up the process by the regulator of responding to unacceptable standards.

Minister Zappone has asked officials in her Department to examine what additional powers can be given to Tusla, to close down or suspend services immediately, where it has critical concerns. This may require amendments to the Child Care Act so that permanent or temporary closures can happen.

The Minister has asked officials to consider best practice nationally and internationally while examining the powers available to her. She has also asked officials to examine how parents can be informed at the earliest possible opportunity of concerns being investigated. Currently, Tusla can only publish reports after due process and this process may take time, during which parents may have no idea that the regulator has concerns.

Mandatory display of certificate of Registration and conditions:

The Minister will add new regulations to make it mandatory for Early Years Providers, to display prominently, a certificate of Registration on their premises. alongside details of any conditions imposed by Tusla. New Regulations, that came into force in 2016, required the registration of all Early Learning and Care services and gave Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate the power to deregister services, or to attach conditions to their registration. This year Tusla has attached conditions to 95 Early Years Services.

Making the announcement Minister Zappone said: "I was appalled to witness the intolerable treatment of children shown in the RTÉ Investigates programme last week. It was reprehensible to witness this type of behaviour despite having improved standards and regulations and increasing the number of inspections.

"As Minister for Children my priority has, and will always be, putting the protection of the child first.  Parents should always feel confident in placing their children into a childcare facility registered with the State. It’s very important that parents understand that not every childcare facility in the country has issues like the ones shown last week. Most service providers work tirelessly to provide a great service and I commend those services.

"However, I want to send a strong message to the tiny number that do not operate in the best interests of children - the regulator will not tolerate this, and I will not tolerate it.

"I am determined to provide, where necessary and where legally possible, the authority to strengthen Tusla’s powers to ensure all early learning care providers deliver a high-quality, child-centred service."


Related Irish News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

08 March 2012
Minister Outlines Child Protection Plans
Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs has addressed Seanad Éireann on her plans to actively support families to prevent, where possible, children being taken into care. Between 2006 & 2010, the number of children in care increased by almost 13.7%.
19 December 2014
Dáil May Sit For Further Debate On Water Services Bill
The Dáil may have to meet again next week to debate new amendments to the Water Services Bill, pending the outcome of a Seanad debate, which resumes this morning. It is understood that the Bill passed its first Seanad debate on Thursday with 31 cotes to 26.
23 January 2008
Department Launches Consular Services For Travellers
The Department of Foreign Affairs is unveiling initiatives to improve consular services for Irish people travelling abroad today.
04 August 2009
New 1,000 College Places For Unemployed
Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe has announced details of 1,000 education places for unemployed workers in September. The new part-time, post-graduate, third-level places will be in the country's seven universities and 13 institutes of technology across a wide range of specialist, higher diploma and graduate certificate-level programmes.
27 February 2020
AIM Project Wins Prestigious Global Award
Ireland's Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) project, which has supported over 12,100 children in over 3,300 services nationally, has won a global award for innovative policy at this year's Zero Project Awards. The award is in recognition of the programme's significant contribution to the inclusion of children with disabilities.