Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Are you concerned about the operation of an Early Years’ Service

The primary role of the Early Years Inspectorate is to inspect services under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations, 2016. These regulations set out the level of service which must be provided within any registered early years’ service. Under the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, Part 12, all early years’ services are required to be registered by the Child and Family agency. It is an offence not to do so. Tusla are responsible to supervise the operation of early years’ services in the state.

Registered providers of all early years’ services are expected at all times to operate their services in accordance with the requirements of the regulations.

You can find a copy of the regulations here:

The inspectorate has for many years investigated complaints received in respect of the operation of early years’ services regulation 32 now places the responsibility for the management and examination of such complaints upon the registered provider. The inspectorate encourages all concerns relating to a service to be addressed to the service in the first instance. Tusla are working closely with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Barnardos and other organisations to support relevant early years’ service in the development and implementation of suitable complaint management policies and practices so that parents, guardians and others can raise a concern and be assured that it will be robustly addressed. In addition to these new regulatory requirements the Early Years Inspectorate has commenced a new process for the management of all unsolicited information received.

What is unsolicited information?

Unsolicited information is defined as any piece of information that relates to the operation of an early years’ service that has been brought to the attention of the inspectorate but has not been sought or requested.

Information, including concerns, complaints and comments provides a valuable source of information by which service delivery standards can be monitored and reviewed by the Early Years Inspectorate.  Information can come from a number of sources including; parents, guardians or relatives of a child attending the service, staff of the service, visiting professionals or the general public.

The Early Years Inspectorate will screen and assess all unsolicited information received but it must fall within the remit of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 in order for specific actions to be taken. If the information that you provide does not meet this requirement you will be so advised and redirected appropriately.

Information received will be utilised to determine the focus and timing of inspections.

What should I do first?

Firstly, you should bring your concerns directly to the early years’ service provider. Providers are required by the aforementioned childcare regulations to have a complaints policy. This policy will outline how your concern will be managed.

You are advised to put your concern in writing to the early years’ service and request a copy of their complaints policy. You should also ask that your issue is addressed under that policy.

When should I contact the Early Years Inspectorate?

We welcome all information about early years’ services. You may be dissatisfied with the response received from the provider or may have reasons that you feel are prohibiting you from bringing the matter to your provider directly.

We do not investigate individual concerns or complaints. We review all information, about early years’ services and we assess this information against the childcare regulations with a view to forming an opinion, if the children in a service, are receiving services in accordance with the expectation of the regulations. We use this information to determine the focus and timing of our inspections.

You will receive an acknowledgment indicating if your concern has been accepted by the Early Years Inspectorate. We may also contact you to clarify information you have provided.

As we do not investigate individual concerns or complaints you will not receive an outcome with regard to the information you have provided.

What will the Early Years Inspectorate do with my information?

If the inspectorate considers that a risk to the health and welfare of children in an early years’ service is present, the Inspectorate will take appropriate actions with the service provider to ensure that the risk is addressed. The next steps taken by the Inspectorate will depend on the information you provided. The Inspectorate will take the appropriate steps as necessary. The service will be inspected according to the risk we have determined may be present based on the information we have received.

In some cases we may ask the early years service to investigate your concerns. The Inspectorate will have oversight of how the early years’ service manages this process.

Information will be treated as received in confidence, however we may not in all incidences be able to guarantee anonymity.

Will I get feedback?

All inspections undertaken by the Early Years Inspectorate generate an inspection report.

These are available here.

Where an inspection has been undertaken as a result of the receipt of unsolicited information by the Inspectorate the online inspection report will clearly reference this.

It is not possible to say exactly how long it will take for an inspection report to be available online.

What information should you give the Early Years Inspectorate?

When raising a concern, please provide the following details:

  • Your full name, address, telephone number & email address.
  • Your relationship with the early years provider i.e. parent, staff, other.
  • The name, address and contact details of the service provider (if known).
  • Time and date(s) i.e. when did the incident occur?
  • Name of child or children involved (if known).
  • Details of any other persons involved.
  • A factual account of what happened or your concern.  Please provide as much detail as possible and please enclose copies of any relevant documentation.
  • Please state whether or not you have raised the concern with the early years’ service and what response you received.

How to contact us:

If you wish to contact us regarding a concern you have about an early years service you may do so in a number of ways:                                        

By email at: early.yearsui@tusla.ie  

By telephone:  061 461700

You may also download our unsolicited information form here

This form can be emailed to us at early.yearsui@tusla.ie or posted to:

Unsolicited Information Office
Early Years Inspectorate
2nd Floor
Estuary House,
Henry St.
Limerick

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, re-assuring 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 do I do?

You are responsible as registered provider to investigate the issues concerning the behaviour of your staff. These enquiries should be robust, thorough and proportionate to the issues of concern. Retain a record of these deliberations for inspection purposes.

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