In 2014, Tusla, The Child and Family Agency commissioned a Report on the Quality of Pre-school Services (Hanafin, 2014). The report indicated that most pre-school services are compliant most of the time, with three quarters of all regulatory requirements inspected as compliant with the Pre-School Regulations (2006).
However, the analysis of inspection reports clearly identified where improvements must be made. Significant levels of ‘non-compliance’ were identified in relation to a number of thematic areas within the existing regulations; Governance (Regulations 8, 9, 14, & 16), Welfare (Regulation 5) and Safety (Regulations 6, 27, 28 & 30).
All pre-school services in Ireland are required to strive for full compliance across all Pre-School Regulations, however, it is accepted that at present there are areas that require greater focus and attention. Resulting from this, the Child and Family Agency has introduced a revised model of Pre-School Inspection. On the 26th January 2015 a model of inspection focusing on the Governance, Welfare and Safety of Children was introduced for all services. On the 1st July 2015 an augmented Inspection, focusing on the Safety, Governance, Health, Welfare and Development of the Child was introduced for those services which have been inspected in the last 3 calendar years.
The inspection protocol and process is unchanged, however, pre-school services who have not received an inspection in the last 3 calendar years are inspected using an Inspection Tool focusing on Safety Governance and Welfare of the Child while services who have been inspected in the last 3 calendar years will receive an inspection focusing on the Safety, Governance, Health, Welfare and Development of the Child.
The Early Years Inspectorate has developed a Quality and Regulatory Framework (QRF), to support registered Early Years Services to comply with the 2016 Regulations. The QRF does this by setting out the core regulatory requirements in a transparent way, bringing together evidence-based, national and international research and best practice in Early Years. The QRF aims to support registered providers in achieving compliance with the regulations and enhance the safety and care of children who attend these services. The QRF is child-centred, with a specific focus on the quality and safety of the care provided directly to children using the services.
The registration of school age services was introduced on the 2nd January 2019 with the publication of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018.
Prior to this Minister Zappone (TD) signed the Childcare Support Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 201. This order will enable registered school age services to participate in the affordable childcare scheme from its introduction in autumn 2019.
A “Commencement Date” of the 18th February 2019 was agreed to start the registration of school age services.
From the 18th February 2019, all school age service providers are required to register their school age service with Tusla by completing the online registration process in order to comply with The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018.
For further information see the National Quality Guidelines for School Age Childcare services and School Age FAQ document
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