Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Tips for parents

Parents should expect that their child should be safe, well-cared for and happy in a childcare service.

The minimum requirements under which a service must operate are set out in the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016.

In addition the document, Questions asked to Tusla, Early Years Inspectorate from the Early Years Sector gives further clarity to the 2016 Regulations.

Useful Tips for Parents on Liaising with your Early years Provider / Reading Inspection Reports

Liaising with your Early years Provider

It is important that parents have a good relationship with their early years’ service. Where parents have a concern, we encourage them 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.

If you are a parent and concerned about the status of, or care being provided at your child’s 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 
On Reading the Report
  1. Check the registration status of the Early Years setting.
  2. Read the additional information section , this will let you know if an immediate action notice has been issued, a referral has been made to other statutory agencies or if the early years setting was invited to attend a regulatory compliance meeting.  This section will give you an immediate picture of the level of compliance with the Early Years Services Regulations 2016.
  3. Check the number of non-compliances identified by the Early Years inspector on the day of the unannounced inspection, this provides a picture of areas of non-compliance  found on the day of inspection. 
  4. Check the corrective and preventative actions undertaken by the provider to correct the non-compliance and prevent its re occurrence.
  5. Check that following corrective and preventative action that the Early Years setting is now compliant with the regulations inspected on the day of inspection.
  6. For further details on the Tusla Early Years inspection reports and a detailed guide click here 

Parents should expect the following from a service:

  • Quality of Service.
  • Management & Staffing
  • Safety
  • Quality of Care
  • Premises
  • Equipment
Quality of Service
  • The service is notified to the Child and Family Agency. (except where exemptions apply)
  • The last inspection report is available.
  • An Information booklet /leaflet available detailing the type of service provided is available.
  • The service should feel welcoming to both you and your child.
  • The environment is caring, safe and friendly.
Management & Staffing
  • There is a named person in charge at all times.
  • All staff have been vetted e.g.   Garda Vetting, references, Police vetting (if lived abroad)
  • Staff have an appropriate level of experience, training and Qualifications.
  • An adequate number of adults are available to supervise and care for the children.
  • Children are supervised at all times
  • There are enough adults to provide individual attention to your child if they need it.
  • Staff should have a good understanding about child development and working with children.
  • Staff are observed to play with the children.
  • Staff turnover rates low i.e. how long have staff been working there.
  • The service must have a policy on child protection
  • Have staff attended training on Child Protection?
  • There is a policy on collecting children from the service.
  • There are appropriate fire safety and child safety measures in place.

Policies and Procedures should be available and implemented in the service. These are some of the Policies and Procedures you would expect to find in the service:

  • Policy on the administration of medications
  • Police on the safe conduct on outings.
  • Accident/incident policy/procedure
  • Complaints policy
  • Policy on encouraging and promoting positive behaviour
  • Illness policy
  • Policy on infectious diseases in the service
  • Safe Sleep for children
  • Health & Safety Policy
  • Nappy changing/Toileting
  • Confidentiality Policy
Quality of Care
  • Good interaction between staff and children are observed.
  • The service can cater for a child with special or additional needs.
  • The children are properly supervised but still allowed to experience activities that are challenging and exciting.
  • There are written programmes outlining the children’s activities.
  • The Programme of Care and Education should be flexible to meet the varying needs of the children.
  • A system is in place to discuss with you how to best deal with your child should he/she become ill, distressed or angry.
  • It is clear how challenging behaviour is managed.
  • Are children observed interacting well with other children.
  • A system is in place to replace staff who are ill or on holidays.
  • There is a respectful approach towards diversity, where each child’s individuality and sense of identity is valued.
  • Food is suitable, nutritious and a varied menu is available where the service provides food.
  • Special dietary needs can be catered for.
  • The arrangements in place for feeding your child are to your satisfaction.
  • Safe sleeping/resting arrangements are in place for children.
  • Staff familiar are familiar with the guidelines around safe sleep and prevention of sudden infant death.
  • Sibling interaction is facilitated and managed in the service.  Siblings/friends are facilitated to spend time together.
  • The premises should be well maintained, clean and hygienic, bright and well ventilated.
  • The premises must be safe and secure. A system is in place to prevent unauthorised access to the service and to prohibit a child leaving the premises unsupervised.
  • There must be adequate space to ensure comfort in rest and play.
  • A quiet area is available if your child wants to relax.
  • There is space for children to play inside and outside.
  • The outdoor play area is secure and hazard free.
  • All play areas are bright and cheerful.
  • Adequate facilities provided for the safe and hygienic preparation and storage of food.
  • The kitchen facilities are clean, hygienic with suitable wash-up, hand-washing and sterilising facilities.
  • The pre-school should not be too hot or too cold.
  • The equipment and furniture must be safe, appropriate and well maintained and clean.
  • Sufficient suitable toys play materials and resources are available to provide stimulating activities and play opportunities for the children.
  • The Equipment, toys, materials available must be appropriate for the ages of the children attending and their developmental needs.
  • Activities and resources should promote cultural awareness and equal opportunities.

Quality Early Years Care and Education: What to Look for in an Early Years Service 

This resource will support parents in consulting with early learning and care providers and in choosing a service if they are selecting a setting for their child for the first time.

The ebook covers areas such as children's rights; relationships and attachment; interactions; social, emotional and behavioural development; the learning environment; and management of the setting. It is available here. For hard copies of the document email Barnardos; resources@barnardos.ie to place an order.

First 5, A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families

First 5 is the first ever cross-Departmental strategy to support babies, young children and their families.

The aim of the  ambitious ten-year plan is to deliver:

  1. A broader range of options for parents to balance working and caring
  2. A new model of parenting support 
  3. New developments in child health, including a dedicated child health workforce 
  4. Reform of the Early Learning and Care (ELC) system, including a new funding model
  5. A package of measures to tackle early childhood poverty
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