Tusla Statement on Early Years’ Services
Tusla welcomed the opportunity at Joint Oireachtas Committee yesterday to outline Tusla’s specific role as regulator of the early years’ sector, and of the important role both professionals, and all members of society, have in reporting concerns about harm or potential harm (child protection concerns) about children to Tusla’s child protection services.
Brian Lee, Director of Quality Assurance, Tusla said: “Regulation, registering and inspecting services can and does safeguard against harm occurring in services. However, it is always people acting in a protective manner that will ultimately keep children safe from actual abuse.
Parents can be assured that every single registered early years service has been inspected and the vast majority of services are committed to and provide safe and suitable services and they resolve any areas identified for improvement to ensure the standards in the service are appropriate.
We completely understand the concern that parents have regarding Tusla being unable to share information with them when an early years’ service is undergoing enforcement action. This would never prevent us from informing a parent where there is an immediate child protection concern being managed by the social work team, and we hope this provides some reassurance to parents during this time.”
Mr Lee continued: “As the regulator we have a specific role and we must work within the boundaries set out by law. Tusla does not have contact details for, or the power to seek contact information for, parents of children in early years’ services to advise them of on-going enforcement actions.
The provider holds the contact details for parents, and the early years’ service is the main point of contact for parents. It is important that parents have a good relationship with their early years’ service and we encourage parents to speak to their early years’ service to seek further information on inspections and to seek assurance that the care being provided to them is satisfactory.”
Separately, we will not be sharing further details of the 37 early years’ services at the highest level of enforcement because, as with all similar regulatory processes, the service being inspected or undergoing enforcement action has a right to fair procedures, which can be highly litigious.
More importantly, this could cause significant issues in any future prosecutions of sub-standard services which could prevent us from removing these services from the register. This would not be in the best interests of children and families.
The vast majority of early years’ services at this level of enforcement make the necessary changes to improve the standard of care and as a result are deescalated from this level of concern.
Where a parent is concerned about the status of, or care being provided at their early years’ service:
- Ask your service provider if they are registered;
- Ask to see a copy of the last inspection report;
- Ask for assurances about the quality of care being provided;
- Consult Tusla’s Quality Regulatory Framework https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/4566-TUSLA_QRF_DAY_CARE_LR.pdf
If you have concern about harm, or potential harm to a child (child protection concern) you should report this concern to your local duty social work office: https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/report-a-concern/
We understand that people can feel very anxious about reporting a child protection concern to us. Tusla social work services also offer advice to people who need assistance in thinking about whether they should report a concern.
Professionals are mandated reporters and where they have a concern they have a clear legal obligation under Children First, and should consult their provider’s policies and procedure to assist them in meeting their obligation to protect children.
Further information on responsibilities under Children First is available at https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/
Further information for parents / guardians is available at: https://www.tusla.ie/services/preschool-services/tips-for-parents/