Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Concerns about an early years service

What should I do if I have concerns about an Early Years Service? 

If you are concerned about the quality of an early years service, you should first speak to the staff/manager or childminder. If following this conversation, you wish to further highlight your concerns or make an official complaint you can do this through the service’s complaints policy and procedure. Each service is required to have a complaints policy and procedure. The complaints policy must specify how the complaint will be dealt with and the procedures in place for keeping the complainant informed regarding how the complaint is being managed. 

The registered provider is required to keep a written record of all complaints; this record must state how the complaint is managed and the record of complaints must be available for inspection by Tusla Early Years Inspectorate. A sample complaints policy for a service is available here.   

If your complaint has not been satisfactorily addressed through the services’ complaints policy and procedures or if the concern cannot be resolved, you can contact the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate; 

061 440607 

feedback.concerns@tusla.ie 

How are concerns about an early years service defined?  

Concerns about an early years service are defined as any concerns regarding the operation of a service and /or the welfare and safety of children who attend, within the remit of the Early Years Services Regulations (2016). The information can come from several sources including; parents/ guardians or relatives of a child attending the service, staff of the service, visiting professionals or the general public.  

What will the Early Years Inspectorate do with concerns that are submitted? 

Concerns received by the Early Years Inspectorate which relate to the operation of an early years service, will be reviewed and assessed for the risk associated with the concern to determine if they relate to the health, welfare and safety of children and if they fall within the remit of the Early Years Services Regulations (2016).  

Where concerns fall within the remit of the Early Years Services Regulations (2016), the Early Years Inspectorate will ask the early years service to prepare a response to the concern received which may include a report and outcomes of the service’s investigation, risk assessment and any other actions taken to address the concern. The Early Years Inspectorate will have oversight of how the service manages this process.  

In all cases, the registered provider will be given an opportunity to respond to the concerns and to any inspection reports that are subsequently produced. 

The Early Years Inspectorate does not conduct investigations. The level of intervention and action taken including the focus and timing of inspections, will reflect the level of risk and its potential impact on children in the service.  

 The person providing the information will be advised that feedback/the outcome of the Early years inspectorate will not be given, however all inspections undertaken in response to concerns will be published on the website in due course.   

If the information relates to a child protection concern, a direct referral to the social work department will be made. 

I am an early years provider, and I received a complaint about my service? What do I do? 

Don’t ignore the issue and hope it will go away.  Often a listening, reassuring ear will resolve most issues promptly. Ensure that you provide the complainant with a copy of your complaints procedure. Take note, log the concern in your records of complaints and retain for inspection purposes. Reassure the person that you will address the concerns in accordance with your service policy. Communicate with the person at all times and keep them advised of the process and your progress. Record each step of the process and ensure you give the complainant in writing the outcome of the process and the rationale for your decision. 

I am an early years provider and I received a complaint about an employee or staff member in my service? What should I do? 

The Factual Accuracy & Disputed Findings process provides an opportunity to correct any factual inaccuracies and request a review of any disputed findings in the draft inspection report. You should record the details of any proposed factual accuracy corrections and any disputed findings you would like to be reviewed. Evidence must be included to support representation of factual accuracy or disputed findings.  

I am an early years provider; can I find out who submitted a concern about my service? 

Under the Freedom of Information Act, 2014 (FOI Act), any person has the right to access records held by public bodies. When considering FOI requests in relation to Concerns, the Early Years Inspectorate is required to consider the various exemption provisions of the FOI Act when deciding whether to release information. Requests which request the identity of a person who has submitted a Concern may be subject to the provisions of Section 42(m)(i) of the FOI Act, which provides a mandatory exemption to records relating to information whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to reveal the identity of a person who has provided information in confidence to a public body.  

On this basis – whilst the rights of access to records members of the public by the FOI Act is recognised- it is unlikely that requests for such records will be successful, and therefore these records will usually not be disclosed. For more information visit the Tusla FOI page.   

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