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Minister Zappone announces up to 1,150 free places on LINC

Minister Zappone announces up to 1,150 free places on the Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years (LINC) Higher Education Programme


Tuesday 5th March 2019

Up to 1,150 free training places are being made available to pre-school practitioners to ensure their pre-school services are inclusive and accessible to children with disabilities, according to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone. 

Applications opened on 4 March 2019 for the fourth intake onto the Leadership for Inclusion (LINC) higher education programme for pre-school practitioners which will commence this September. The LINC programme is a key initiative under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) for pre-school children.

The LINC programme is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It is delivered by a consortium, led by Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and in partnership with Early Childhood Ireland and Maynooth University’s Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education.

Welcoming the announcement of the fourth intake onto the LINC programme, the Minister said:

‘At the heart of AIM is the fostering of an inclusive culture and inclusive practices within pre-schools which, once embedded, will be sustained. For this reason a significant part of AIM focuses on training, upskilling and mentoring staff to enhance their skills and confidence to support children with disabilities. There is a strong focus in the LINC programme on the education of inclusion leaders within services, who will provide leadership and mentoring within their own services and in this way, support wider and longer-lasting improvements in practice.’

Across the country, over 1,250 graduates from the first two years of the programme are now performing a new leadership role of Inclusion Coordinator within their pre-school setting. This attracts an increase in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting. LINC graduates also meet the educational requirement to perform the role of ECCE room leader within their pre-school setting.

LINC’s National Programme Coordinator, Mr Fintan Breen, outlined how the LINC programme contains online and classroom based sessions in order to ensure a flexible and quality learning experience, enabling pre-school practitioners in full-time employment to participate in the programme. He added that LINC is an award-winning programme, having recently won the Student Engagement and Communications Award at the Education Awards 2019 which represents the third award for the LINC programme since it was established in 2016.  The Access and Inclusion Model has also won a number of national awards.

The application deadline for applying for a place on the LINC programme is Thursday, 4 April 2019 and further information on how to apply can be found on


Updated – EY & SAC Capital 2019 Application

Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Capital 2019 Application Announcement
Please note, an additional clarification has been added to the guidelines here. Please read this clarification carefully before making an application.  Please contact Pobal online support on 01-5117222 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank" rel="noopener">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Commencement of School Age Childcare Regulations

Minister Zappone Welcomes Commencement of School Age Childcare Regulations 

Monday 18th February 2019

Regulations requiring the registration of school-age childcare services came into effect today, 18th February 2019.

Childcare services for school-age children must now register with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. School-age childcare services have not, to date, been subject to registration, so this is a significant step forward in ensuring quality school-age childcare.

Services that provide childcare for school-age children only must apply for registration by 18 May 2019 and are encouraged to start this process straightaway. School-age services that are already registered with Tusla as pre-school services must apply for registration by 18 August 2019. New services must apply for registration at least 3 months before opening.

Once registered, school age childcare services will be able to participate in the forthcoming Affordable Childcare Scheme launching in late 2019. This means families availing of these services will be able to access the financial benefits provided by the scheme.
Minister Zappone stated: “Today is another milestone in the development of quality, accessible and affordable early learning and care and school-age childcare in Ireland. I am delighted that the new School Age Childcare Regulations have now commenced. The new Regulations, which require that all school-age childcare services be registered with Tusla, will help to ensure that children attend services that are suitable, of high quality, and safe.” 
The Regulations that came into force today are preliminary regulations. Later this year the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will embark on a public consultation process on the development of comprehensive regulations and national quality standards for school-age childcare.

Both the Regulations and an Explanatory Guide are available on the Department’s website.

School-age childcare services can apply for registration online at

If a school-age childcare service wants any support regarding the registration process, they should contact their local city/county childcare committee 

PIP Announcement: NSAI Aistear & Play CPD

The National Síolta Aistear Initiative is a collaboration between the Department of Children & Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, Better Start National Early Years Quality Development and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. The purpose of the initiative is to support the coordinated roll out of Síolta and Aistear, the national quality and curriculum frameworks.


Aistear & Play CPD has been developed by a working group with representation from the National Síolta Aistear Initiative, the Early Years Education Inspectorate, DES, NCCA & Better Start.


NSAI Aistear & Play comprises of 5 individual workshops (2 &1/2 hours each) and two onsite support visits from an Early Years Specialist to support application in practice. This CPD will be delivered by Better Start Quality Early Years Specialists. Please note attendance at all workshops and onsite visits is required to receive certification and CPD payment if eligible. 

This CPD will be eligible for the DCYA CPD funding pilot subject to terms and conditions. The first round of CPD will begin in March 2019. Aistear and Play will be available to a limited number of settings in the following locations: Dublin City, Fingal, Dublin South, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Wicklow, Kildare, Waterford, Carlow/Kilkenny, Tipperary, Longford, Offaly/Laois, Meath/Westmeath, Galway, Mayo/Roscommon, Donegal, Sligo/Leitrim, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork City, Cork County, Cavan, Monaghan & Louth.

We are now inviting early learning and care settings who wish to apply for a place on this programme to submit a completed expression of interest form which can be found along with more information at www. under the NSAI tab.


Click on Better Start Link for Information Leaflet on Aistear and Play, Locations of Workshops and Expression of Interest Form: 

Minister Zappone publishes Addendum to Children First

Online safety risks must be assessed by Organisations working with children and young people
Minister Zappone publishes Addendum to Children First Guidance 


Friday 18th January 2019

Groups, clubs and services working with young people are required by law to assess and manage online risks, according to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

Minister Zappone has signed and published an addendum to Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on on-line safety. 

It makes clear that all organisations and services working with young people must include online risks and safeguards in their legally required Child Safeguarding Statements.

Safeguarding Statements have been a legal requirement since March 2018 after Minister Zappone commenced all sections of Children’s First in December 2017.

Speaking today the Minister said “The internet is a hugely valuable resource that has brought so many positive opportunities for learning, creating and communicating across the whole of society. 

However, with these increased opportunities has come increased risks. There are those online who wish to harm, hurt or abuse our children. We all have a responsibility to offer protection and safety from this danger.

This responsibility extends to relevant services who offer internet access, PCs and wifi.  Organisations who work with our young people need to know how to identify and manage these risks, and know the appropriate response if a child is at risk."

The Minister noted that the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children was fully revised and published in 2017 to reflect the provisions in the Act and stated “This addendum to the guidance does not alter or increase the obligations on organisations providing services to children under the Act, rather it clarifies that the specific issue of online safety should be considered when carrying out risk assessments and preparing Child Safeguarding Statements.” 

The Minister added that a range of Government Departments and agencies have a role in relation to internet safety saying that, “the cross-Government approach required to tackle online safety issues is recognised in the Government’s Action Plan for Online Safety, which sets out the wide range of actions and activities that are underway across a number of Government Departments to support and promote online safety for children and adults”. 

Note for Editors

The Children First Act 2015, which was fully commenced in December 2017, provides for a number of key child protection measures, including raising awareness of child abuse and neglect, providing for reporting and management of child protection concerns and improving child protection arrangements in organisations providing services to children. 

The Act operates side-by-side with the non-statutory obligations provided for in Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. The guidance sets out definitions of abuse, and signs for its recognition. It explains how reports about reasonable concerns of child abuse or neglect should be made by the general public and professionals to Tusla. It sets out what organisations need to do to keep children safe. It also describes the obligations under the Children First Act 2015 and who they attach to. These guidelines have been in place since 1999 and were fully revised and published in October 2017 to include reference to the provisions of the Act. 

The Addendum to Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on Online Safety is available on the Department of Children and Youth Affair’s website at the following link:  Click here

A range of resources to support the implementation of Children First, including guidance on developing a Child Safeguarding Statement is available on the Tusla website