Landmark review of the Child Care Act 1991 receives approval to be drafted
Landmark review of the Child Care Act 1991 receives approval to be drafted
From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Published on 19 April 2023
Last updated on 19 April 2023
• The Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2023 provides for the review and update of the Child Care Act 1991, the primary Act guiding child welfare and protection in Ireland
• The new Bill intends to capture positive policy and practice developments and address legislative gaps identified during the review process and will also revise and update the regulation of early learning and childcare services.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has today (19 April) announced government approval to draft the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2023.
The Bill, when enacted, will revise and update the 1991 Act to better reflect changes in child welfare and protection services in Ireland in the 30 years since enactment of the 1991 Act, as well as capture current legislative, policy and practice developments.
The Bill will also revise and update the regulation of early learning and childcare services.
The development of the Bill was informed by significant engagement and consultation with stakeholders to collect their views on the legislation including through public consultations, written submissions and a number of consultation events. This included extensive engagement with Tusla on subjects covered by the 1991 Act.
Some of the most significant areas of change proposed are as follows:
• Introduction of a guiding principles section to the Act, with the best interests of the child as the overriding principle.
• Introduction of a duty to cooperate between relevant bodies, such as Tusla, Government Departments, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and An Garda Síochána (AGS). This cooperation will include the sharing of information between relevant bodies and Tusla, and with each other, in accordance with the law and as necessary and proportionate.
• The voice of the child is to be strengthened both in court proceedings and in decisions taken outside the court setting by introducing a principle that children should be able to participate in the decision-making process.
• Amendments to Section 3 of the Child Care and to Children First Act 2015 related to assessments of reports of harm.
• Amendments to existing rules for Supervision Orders, Interim Care Orders, Care Orders, Emergency Care Orders and Voluntary Care Agreements.
• Amendments to Part VIIA to allow Tusla Early Years Inspectorate to immediately close unregistered early learning and childcare services, to temporarily suspend registered services where there are concerns about significant risk to children, to share information on enforcement action with parents, to place some additional enforcement measures on a legislative footing, and to introduce a “Fit Person” regulation.
Welcoming the announcement, Minister O’Gorman said:
“The Child Care Act 1991 was a transformative piece of legislation, helping to promote the protection of children. We want to build on that, making the Act more child-centred, and taking account of the many societal and legislative changes since 1991 including the establishment of the Child and Family Agency, Children First legislation and the children’s referendum.”
The General Scheme will now be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for priority drafting of the Bill. The text of the Bill will be finalised as a matter of priority and it is intended to progress the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas in the coming months.
For more information on the review of the Child Care Act click here
For more information on the public consultation on a review of regulations for early learning and care click here
For the report on a public consultation on a review of regulations for early learning and care click here
Statement of Strategy 2023 Draft Survey
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is currently preparing a new Statement of Strategy to cover the period 2023-2025. It will set out our high-level goals and objectives as well as the strategies and actions to be progressed to achieve our mission.
CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A RESPONSE
Following the publication of the Department’s last Statement of Strategy in March 2021, we have succeeded in achieving a wide range of goals across our policy areas.
Our Statement of Strategy 2021-2023 included the following 6 strategic goals.
- We will develop, implement and influence evidence informed policies and legislation that improve the outcomes for those we serve.
- We will ensure the provision of a range of quality and sustainable services, underpinned by strategic investment, that meet the needs of individuals, families and communities.
- We will help those who are vulnerable, including children, young people and at risk individuals, to overcome adverse circumstances and to achieve their full potential.
- We will promote the development of a progressive, respectful and equal society, informed by the experiences of past generations and seek to respond to the needs of survivors.
- We will work in partnership with individuals, families and communities, and across Government Departments, public bodies and civil society to achieve better outcomes.
- We will maintain high standards of performance and corporate governance with engaged, motivated and supported staff.
These goals were framed by the 2020 Programme for Government 2020 and the following priority areas contained therein:-
1. White Paper on Direct Provision: Commitment: Publish a White Paper by end-2020
2. Capping of Parental Childcare Fees: Commitment: Publish a policy, legal and economic analysis on capping of parental fees irrespective of income, including an examination of what happens in other countries.
3. Successor Strategy to Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: Commitment: Publish and Implement a successor to Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures
4. Implementation of commitments in First Five: Commitment: Implement the First Five Strategy
5. Early Years Pay: Commitment: Support the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the childcare sector and the drawing up of an Employment Regulation Order, which would determine minimum rates of pay for childcare workers, as well as terms and conditions of employment.
6. Action Plan on Racism: Commitment: Publish a new Action Plan against Racism.
7. Implement HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) Report on Tusla: Commitment: Fully implement Tusla’s Action Plan on the Recommendations of the HIQA Statutory Investigation into Tusla’s Management of Referrals (June 2018).
8. Childminding Action Plan: Commitment: Examine options to increase flexibility within centre- based care, as well as options to accelerate access to subsidies for non-relative childminders, with a report to be published by year-end.
9. Youth Services: Commitment: Continue to invest in youth work.
10. Comhairle na nÓg: Commitment: Seek to increase funding and establish a Rural Youth Assembly.
11. LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex +): Commitment: Implement the LGBTI+ Youth Strategy.
12. Domestic Violence: Commitment: Undertake an examination of paid domestic violence leave.
13. Equality: Commitment: Minister has expressed support for adding socio-economic status as a tenth ground for discrimination under the Equal Status Acts.
In light of our evolving landscape, now is an opportune time to develop a new Statement of Strategy which will outline the strategic vision of this department in the coming years. We welcome the views of interested stakeholders.
The Department is inviting submissions from stakeholders in relation to its Statement of Strategy to be received by 5pm on 2nd of May 2023. Click here to submit a response. You will have the opportunity to respond to a series of questions about the Department’s goals and objectives, as well as to tell us what you think we should prioritise in the coming period.
We would request that organisations submit one coordinated response, however individuals are also welcome to submit their views.
Freedom of Information Notice
Please note that submissions will be subject to the Freedom of Information Acts. On completion of this consultation the department may publish all submissions online.
CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A RESPONSE
Minister O’Gorman publishes funding agreement for new €221 million Core Funding scheme
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has today (28 June 2022) published the ‘Partner Service Funding Agreement’ for the new €221m Core Funding for Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC)core funding 29 06 2022 providers that will commence this September.
Services that sign up for Core Funding will become Partner Services, working with the State to deliver ELC and SAC for the public good – focused on quality and affordability for children and their families, sustainability and stability for providers and their staff, and accountability, transparency and value for money for the State.
The Funding Agreement, published today, sets out the detail of how Core Funding will operate in its first year, the commitment from the Minister to funding and the associated requirements of Partner Services, which include:
- Ensuring no increase to fees in 2022/23 above September 2021 rates.
- Issuing a Parent Statement to all parents using the service outlining what they can expect.
- Offering the NCS and the ECCE programme to all eligible children.
- Implementing the national practice frameworks, Aistear and Siolta.
- Developing implementing and reporting on a quality action plan.
- Providing transparent and validated financial reports.
- Participating in annual data collection surveys.
Giving further detail on the Core Funding Partner Service Funding Agreement 2022/2023, the Minister stated:
“Core Funding represents a new approach to how the State funds the sector. It entails a shift in the relationship between how State and providers collectively work together, with new responsibilities on both sides, to progressively deliver the vision of increasingly publicly funded and publicly managed early learning and care and school-age childcare to the benefit of children and their families.”
Core Funding for an individual service will be calculated based on the number of places a service offers, the age group of children for whom the places are offered and the hours of operation with additional funding for qualified graduates in certain leadership roles.
The application process for Core Funding will open in late July. In the meantime, a Core Funding Ready Reckoner online tool is available to give providers an estimate of what they can expect to receive under Core Funding. In addition, services can also book an appointment with their local City/County Childcare Committee to calculate their Core Funding value at individual service level.
Core Funding only comes into effect and is contingent upon Employment Regulation Orders being in effect to cover all roles across the sector as defined in the Early Years’ Service Joint Labour Committee Establishment Order.
Further information about Core Funding is available here. Services can also contact their local City/County Childcare Committees and/or Pobal with any questions about Core Funding.
Minister O’Gorman launches findings from review that recommends dedicated State Agency for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare
From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Published on 29 March 2022
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has today published a report that signals major reform to the Operating Model for Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC).state agency 31 03 2022
The Independent Review of the Operating Model - undertaken by Indecon Economic Consultants - fulfils a commitment in First 5, the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families and in the Programme for Government.
Drawing on national and international evidence and underpinned by a programme of engagement with stakeholders, the Review:
• assessed the current operating model for ELC and SAC; and
• identified and appraised options for reform.
The functions performed by Pobal (Early Years), Better Start, City/County Childcare Committees (CCC) and National Voluntary Organisations were in scope of the Review as well as functions performed by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) itself.
The Review identified a number of strengths of the existing operating model as well as some weaknesses that need to be addressed in the context of increased State investment in the sector and a significant reform agenda committed to by Government.
The Review concluded that a dedicated State Agency is the optimal operating model for ELC and SAC. This Agency would be responsible for functions currently undertaken by Pobal (Early Years), Better Start and the CCC, as well as the operational functions currently undertaken by the DCEDIY. This conclusion has been accepted by Government.
The Minister, with Government approval, has requested that his Department now commences a period of further detailed analysis, planning, engagement and consultation in respect of this important reform project.
Welcoming the report, Minister O’Gorman said:
“I am pleased that Government has accepted the findings from the Review of the Operating Model, which I am publishing today.
“The recommendation emerging from this Review – to establish a dedicated State Agency - will support the delivery of accessible, affordable and high-quality ELC and SAC services for children and their families and the significant reform agenda for ELC and SAC committed to by Government.
“A Project Team has been established in my Department tasked with undertaking further detailed analysis, planning, consultation and engagement with key stakeholders to assess how this recommendation can best be implemented.
"All stakeholders are strongly encouraged to work with my Department in this next and important phase to design an operating model for the benefit of the sector, the State and most importantly children and their families.”
The Minister thanked Indecon Economic Consultants and the members of the Review Oversight Group for their extensive work on this important project. He also noted his appreciation for all of those who participated through stakeholder consultation, and acknowledged the extent to which these contributions had shaped the review and the recommendations.
The full report is available here.
Minister O’Gorman announces details of the new €221 million funding stream for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare providers
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman has today (07 March 2022) announced the rates and values for the new Core Funding Scheme and launched an online tool that will enable Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) providers to estimate the potential value of this new €221 million Core Funding Scheme for their service.
The development of Core Funding is a significant milestone on the journey towards a new funding model. It aims to transform of the sector and establish a new type of partnership between providers and the State that reflects the importance of ELC and SAC for the public good.
Core Funding is designed to meet the combined objectives of:
- Improved affordability for parents by ensuring that fees do not increase;
- Improved quality through better pay and conditions for the workforce by supporting agreement on an Employment Regulation Order through the Joint Labour Committee;
- Supporting the employment of graduate staff; and
- Improved sustainability and stability for services.
Giving further detail on Core Funding and the new online tool, the Minister stated:
“I am delighted to be announcing the specific rates of Core Funding which will make clear the value of this investment to ELC and SAC service providers. We are determined to reform the Early Learning and School-Age Childcare sector so that it works for everyone – staff, parents, and providers and most importantly, children. Today’s announcement is an important step in that process.
“Core Funding will support services by scaling the level of funding in line with the capacity of services and degree-level qualifications of those working in the service. The online tool or Ready Reckoner that I am launching today will allow ELC and SAC providers to see the potential impact of this funding on their individual service.”
Core Funding builds on the objectives set out in the First 5 strategy, progresses the recommendations in the recently-published report of the Expert Group to develop a new funding model, Partnership for the Public Good, and enables the realisation of goals articulated in Nurturing Skills the workforce plan for the sector.
The Core Funding value for an individual service will be calculated based on the following information:
- The total service capacity per age range offered
- The hours of operation of the service by week and weeks per year
- The number of ELC graduate Lead Educators in ELC rooms in the service
- If the ELC or combined ELC and SAC service has an ELC graduate as the service manager
- The Core Funding Ready Reckoner online tool is accessible to all and is designed to give an idea of what services can expect to receive based on their characteristics and to allow different scenarios of provision to be tested.
Further information is available here and support, guidance and training is available through City and County Childcare Committees.
The Economic Rationale for Government Investment in Early Learning and Care: a High-Level Overview
From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Published on 2 March 2022
Last updated on 2 March 2022
This paper, produced by the Research and Evaluation Unit (REU) at the request of the Early Years Division, provides a high-level overview of the economic reasons for government investment in Early Learning and Care (ELC*) in Ireland.
The paper is organised into three main parts. Part 1 of the paper outlines the context for public investment in ELC, focusing on key economic issues such as the public-private mix of services, non-centre based care, regulation and quality, average fees, staff qualifications and wages, and labour supply elasticity. Part 2 provides an overview of the main government-funded schemes and policies that support and govern the ELC sector, referring briefly to the exceptional funding supports introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure sector sustainability. Part 3 presents a high level overview of the key literature outlining the benefits of high quality ELC to children, families and the wider economy.
* Early Learning and Care refers to the formal and informal education and care provided to children under the age of six.
The Economic Rationale for Government Investment in Early Learning and Care: a High-Level Overview
Minister O’Gorman publishes State of the Nation’s Children report
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has today published the 2021 edition of State of the Nation’s Children (SONC) Report. This SONC online report provides a comprehensive picture of our children's lives by presenting keyState of nations report 2022 information on children’s health, behavioural and educational outcomes as well as their relationships with their parents and their friends. It also presents data on supports and services available to children.
This report has been published biennially since 2006 and annually since last year and is prepared by the Research and Evaluation Unit in the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY).
SONC provides the most up-to-date data on the National Set of Child Wellbeing indicators, and:
- charts the wellbeing of children in Ireland
- tracks changes over time
- benchmarks progress in Ireland relative to other countries
SONC is widely used as a resource by policy makers, the research community and civil society, and aims to inform Government policy on children, young people and families. The SONC reports are useful for tacking trends in relation to children’s wellbeing, they provide data that shows us where more work needs to be done and presents us with evidence of where progress is being made.
Some of the key findings in the report include:
- In 2021 there were 1,191,125 children living in Ireland. This accounted for 23.8% of the total population
- In 2018 31.1% of children aged 10-17 reported having been bullied at school in the past couple of months. This increased between 2014 and 2018
- For the 2020/21 pre-school year there were 4,023 pre-school services under contract to deliver the ECCE Programme to 104,137 children. Of these pre-school services 39.0% met the basic capitation status and 61.0% met the higher capitation status
- The Leaving Certificate retention rate for children entering secondary school in 2014 was 91.5% i.e. out of the 61,161 enrolled on 30 September 2014 in year one of the Junior Cycle, 55,992 sat the Leaving Certificate by 2019, or sat the Leaving Certificate or received a calculated grade in 2020
- In 2018 76.8% of children were classified as being in the ‘normal’ weight category according to the International Obesity Taskforce Standards. 15.8% were classified as either ’overweight’ or ’obese’
- In 2020 there were 5,205 children registered as having an intellectual disability
- In Q4 2020 there were 14,654 child welfare and protection referrals to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency
- In 2020 13.2% of the population were considered to be at risk of poverty
- In 2020 there were 24,646 households with children identified as being in need of social housing. This number has decreased by 46.7% between 2016 and 2020.
- In 2020 there were 5,818 children in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency
- In 2020 there were 168 births to mothers aged 10-17. In the four year period 2017-2020 the number of births to mothers aged 10-17 has decreased by 20.4%
- In 2018 88.2% of children aged 10-17 reported being happy with their lives at present
Welcoming the report, the Minister said;
“I am delighted to publish the 2021 edition of the State of the Nation’s Children report. The report compiles comprehensive up-to-date data on children’s wellbeing in an easily accessible format and is a valuable resource to policymakers, civil society, researchers, services, schools and colleges, parents and families, communities and indeed anyone interested in learning more about how children are faring in Ireland today. It provides us with the evidence base to consider how we can build on and improve better wellbeing outcomes for children and young people.”
Minister English establishes Joint Labour Committee for the Early Years’ Service Sector
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, has formally accepted the recommendation of the Labour Court forELC labour
the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for the Early Years’ Service sector.
Giving effect to this recommendation, the Minister has today (Monday 21 June) signed an establishment order that shall come into effect on 1 July 2021.
Minister English said:
"I welcome the recommendation of the Labour Court and I am happy to announce the establishment of this new Joint Labour Committee which fulfils the Programme for Government commitment to support the establishment of a JLC in the childcare sector."
JLC’s provide a wage-setting mechanism that determines terms and conditions of employment, as well as setting minimum rates of pay for workers in certain sectors. In the sectors represented, the terms and conditions may be given effect in law by means of Employment Regulation Orders made by the Minister.
Minister English added:
"I would encourage bodies representing both employers and employees in this sector to engage with the JLC process as it can yield positive benefits for the sector as a whole. An agreement on a new set of terms and conditions of employment will help maintain and grow the talented pool of people working in the sector as well as providing security and opportunity for career development in the Early Years’ and Childcare sectors."
This JLC resulted from collaboration with Childhood Services Ireland, SIPTU, and the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), Roderic O’Gorman TD, who initiated the process and appointed Dr Kevin Duffy, the former Chair of the Labour Court as the independent chair of this process. Dr Duffy concluded that all parties involved agreed that the establishment of a JLC is the most appropriate means by which pay and conditions of employment in the sector can be addressed.
Minister O'Gorman said:
"I'm delighted to see progress being made on the establishment of the Joint Labour Committee. Those working in early learning and childcare services deserve recognition for the hugely important work they do and the benefits their work brings for children, families and society. COVID-19 has reinforced just how essential these services are. High-quality early learning and childcare depends on a well-qualified workforce that is supported and valued. More favourable wages and working conditions are necessary to attract and retain qualified staff. The government is committed to supporting this through the JLC process and through major projects underway in my department to develop a new funding model and a new workforce development plan for this sector."
GMIT LAUNCHES NEW LEVEL 7 DIPLOMA IN SCHOOL AGE CHILDCARE
GMIT’s Department of Nursing, Health Sciences and Social Care is pleased to offer a brand new course in its suite of Early Childhood Education andGMIT poster Care programmes, the new Diploma in School Age Childcare (Level 7), the first such course to be offered in Irish third-level colleges.
The innovative academic programme was designed in consultation with stakeholders in the School Age Childcare (SAC) and Early Learning and Care (ELC) sector. One hundred and five (105) participants took part in the consultation process representing 89 SAC and ELC organisations.
School Age Childcare became a regulated service in February 2019, requiring providers of school age childcare services to register with Tusla, the national Child and Family Agency. The programme will support the upskilling of professionals working in this area, meeting employers’ requirements outlined during the stakeholder consultation process with GMIT.
The programme will be delivered using a blended approach (online and one Saturday a month) at GMIT’s Mayo campus over one academic year and is designed to be accessible to individuals already working full-time in this sector. Modules include Leadership, Psychology, Digital Technologies, Relationships, Nature Pedagogy and Play.
The programme was validated by an external board comprised of academic peers who support the quality improvement of the School Age Childcare Sector in Ireland who said this highly innovative programme will benefit children in School Age Childcare services and they commended the level of consultation and engagement with stakeholders.
The new course complements the suite of early childhood education and care courses offered by GMIT’s Department of Nursing, Health Sciences and Social Care. Such is demand for the BA in Early Childhood Education and Care courses launched in 2016 these programmes will be delivered at the Galway campus (in addition to the Mayo campus) from September 2021. Early years educators or other applicants with a full Award at QQI Level 6 in Childcare or equivalent may apply directly to GMIT for direct entry into Year 2.
Minister O’Gorman launches National Action Plan for Childminding (2021 – 2028)
From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Published on 15 April 2021
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, T.D., has today launched the National Action Plan for Childminding. The National Action Plan aims to improve access to high quality and affordable early learning and care and school-age childcare through childminding, and sets out a phased approach to bringing childminders within the scope of State-funded supports and regulation over the period 2021-2028.
Childminding offers many benefits to children and parents, but until now has received little formal recognition by the State. Despite its many advantages and its continued popularity among parents, it has remained largely unfunded, unsupported and unregulated.
The extension of regulation to childminders, which is expected to happen within the first 2-3 years of the National Action Plan, will allow parents who use childminders to access subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme. In this way the Action Plan will support parental choice in type of provider of early learning and care and school-age childcare. Childminders will be supported to take part in the National Childcare Scheme at the earliest possible opportunity, provided they have completed initial training requirements and meet other core regulatory requirements (for example: Garda vetting, first aid) and go on to complete further training over a period of years.
A cornerstone of the National Action Plan is recognition of the differences between childminding and centre-based provision of early learning and care and school-age childcare. Given the home and family setting in which childminders operate, the National Action Plan will include development of new regulations and training that are specific to childminding, amendment of legislation to allow childminders to register with Tusla, and review of the funding and financial supports available for childminders.
Speaking at the launch, Minister O’Gorman said:
“I am delighted to be launching this important and long-awaited reform. Until now there has been very little State support for childminding or public recognition of the important role that childminders play. This National Action Plan, which stresses the distinctive features of childminding, will open up a range of supports to childminders and will bring many benefits to children, to their parents, and to childminders themselves.”
The National Action Plan sets out a phased approach to reform:
- Phase 1, which will be a preparatory phase lasting 2-3 years, will involve: review of regulations, development of bespoke training and supports, detailed costings, and further consultation
- Phase 2, which will be a transition phase lasting 3-5 years, will see new regulations coming into force, access opened to the National Childcare Scheme, transitional training requirements, and expansion of supports
- Phase 3 will involve full implementation, with the end of transitional arrangements, and childminders regulated and able to access multiple supports
Introduction of the National Action Plan was a commitment in First 5, the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families and the Programme for Government. Work began in 2016 on developing the proposals that lie behind the National Action Plan, with the establishment of a Working Group on Reforms and Supports for the Childminding Sector. The Working Group’s recommendations, which were published in 2018, formed the basis for a Draft Childminding Action Plan, which was published by the department in 2019 for the purposes of public consultation. The findings of the public consultation process informed the development of the National Action Plan published today.
The National Action Plan mainly addresses self-employed childminders who work in their own homes. The Action Plan is not primarily concerned with childminders or nannies who work in the child’s home, and who are employees of the child’s parents, nor is the Action Plan primarily concerned with au pairs. The Action Plan does, however, include an action to develop information and training resources in relation to the use of nannies and Au pairs. The Action Plan will not extend regulation to those who solely care for children who are related to them.
Minister O’Gorman recommends establishment of Joint Labour Committee for the Early Learning
and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) sector
From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Published on 12 March 2021
Last updated on 25 March 2021
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman, T.D., has written to the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English T.D., recommending the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for the early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) sector.
The Programme for Government commits to supporting the establishment of a JLC for the sector.
The recommendation follows an 8-week pre-JLC consultation process initiated by the Minister in partnership with SIPTU and CSI/IBEC, and independently chaired by Dr Kevin Duffy, former Chair of the Labour Court. As part of the process, interested parties were invited to discuss how best to address issues of pay and conditions in the sector and how a JLC might support this.
Following the conclusion of the pre-JLC consultation process, Dr Duffy submitted to the Minister a report which recommends the establishment of a JLC.
If established, a JLC would provide an opportunity for SIPTU and CSI/IBEC to engage in negotiations on an Employment Regulation Order which could ultimately establish binding rates of pay and conditions for the sector.
Minister O’Gorman stated:
“I was pleased to read Dr Duffy’s report on the very positive progress that was made in the ‘Pre-JLC’ process that I initiated in partnership with SIPTU and CSI/IBEC. I would like to thank Dr Duffy and all the parties involved for their efforts and commitment.
“While there is still a distance to travel, today marks an important milestone in our journey towards improved pay and conditions for those working in the sector.”
“Finding an appropriate mechanism to address pay and conditions is key to the ongoing professionalisation of the sector, and will underpin the delivery of quality services for children and families.”
Under the Industrial Relations Act 1946, the Minister for of State for Business, Employment and Retail has the power to apply to the Labour Court for the establishment of a JLC, and it is the statutory role of the Labour Court to determine the appropriateness of establishing a JLC in a given sector.
Frontier Economics Research Papers
These research papers aim to provide a broad foundational base upon which international comparisons and learnings can be drawn that will be of value for the development of the funding model in Ireland. The authors are solely responsible for the views, opinions, findings, conclusions and/or recommendations expressed, which are not attributable to the Department or the Expert Group.
The first suite of Research Papers are as follows:
1. International Comparisons of Fees, Staff Wages and Public Investment in Early Learning and Care
2. International Approaches to Funding Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare to Reduce Costs for Parents
3. Review of Working Conditions for Staff in Early Learning and Care
4. Mechanisms to Control Fees Charged to Parents for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare
5. Approaches to Identifying Children or Settings in Need of Additional Support
Click here to download and view the Reseach Papers
The First Aid Responder (FAR) Education and Training Standard established by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is recognised by Tusla as the first aid course for children that meets the regulatory requirement. In an early years setting the number of people required to be trained in first aid for children (FAR) and that are available for first aid response is based on the service’s risk assessments, including the size of the service and the hazards identified.
Currently where a service provides evidence that a person(s) is trained in First Aid for children and is available to children at all times the regulatory requirement is deemed to have been met by the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate. Prior to the COVID -19 pandemic this was to continue to be acceptable until the 31st May 2020. The regulatory requirement was due to change from the 1st of June 2020. The change required is that at least one person(s) is to have had undertaken the FAR (First Aid Response) course delivered by a trainer approved by PHECC to be available to children at all times in a service.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Tusla and Dept of Children and Youth Affairs have agreed to extend the timeframe to meet this regulatory requirement to the end of February 2021.
In addition, for those staff that already have FAR certification which has now expired or is due to expire – their certificates will remain valid until courses are up and running again.
The DCYA had committed to providing a subsidy for the training of one staff member, per childcare service. This was supposed to have finished by the original deadline of 1 June 2020. In light of Tusla’s statement, the DCYA are extending the subsidy eligibility to the end of 2020.
Owing to the current Covid-19 restrictions, PHECC have agreed that the theory part of the FAR training course can be delivered as an online component. PHECC have stipulated that the online theory training will be:
• For the short term only and will be limited to the duration of the current Covid-19 situation.
• Does not replace the whole course, is for FAR theory only.
• Full certification cannot come from this part of the training.
• Practicals and assessment should be on hold until the current Covid-19 situation is over.
• The online session must be live and the trainer must ensure that they can document that participants engaged fully.
• There will be a limit of participants to 8 as in the face-to-face course
Such a significant departure from normal standards shall be limited to the duration of the current Covid-19 crisis.
Things to consider
Before undertaking online FAR theory training Childcare Providers should ensure the following:
• That the training is being offered by a PHECC Approved Training Institution listed here.
• That the company offering the online training can provide an interim certificate/letter as proof of completion of online theory training
• That the company you choose to do the online training with will also be able to offer the practical part of the course as well as the assessment in a place and at a time that will suit you
There is no obligation to undertake online training, services can opt to wait until the face-to-face courses are being offered and undertake the training in the normal way. However, the subsidy will only be available until the end of 2020 (see payment schedule on application form).
Claiming the partial subsidy:
On completion of the online theory training, services can apply for a maximum of €150 which represents 2/3 of the total subsidy or 2/3 of what you paid for the course, whichever is the lesser by completing the attached application form and submitting along with a receipt and a certificate/letter confirming that the participant has undertaken the full online theory course. On completion of the practical part of the course, the provider can apply for the remaining €75 by submitting their certificate.
In order to apply for this funding please download the form below and return to Offaly County Childcare Committee
FAR Reimbursement Fund Application Form including part funding 2020
Six sectoral representatives were nominated by the Professionalisation Sub Group of the Early Years Forum. These include representatives from Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP), National Childhood Network (NCN), National Forum for Community Childcare Services, Seas Suas, Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) and Plé.
SIPTU is also a member of the group in accordance with the requirement of the Return to Work Safely Protocol issued by Government on 9th May to consult with Trade Unions. Childminders are represented by Childminding Ireland.
The Advisory Group will be chaired by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and includes the following members:
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
- Minister Katherine Zappone (Chair)
- Bernie McNally
- Anne-Marie Brooks
- Mark Considine
- Toby Wolfe
- Marian Quinn, Association of Childhood Professionals Ireland
- Marie Daly, Community Forum
- Teresa Heeney, Early Childhood Ireland
- Denise McCormilla, National Childhood Network
- Mary Moloney, PLÉ
- Regina Bushell, Seas Suas
- Bernadette Burke, Childminding Ireland
- Diane Jackson, SIPTU
- Fiona McDonnell
- David Burke
- Margaret Rogers
Minister Zappone Welcomes Commencement of School Age Childcare Regulations
Monday 18th February 2019
Regulations requiring the registration of school-age childcare services came into effect today, 18th February 2019.
Childcare services for school-age children must now register with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. School-age childcare services have not, to date, been subject to registration, so this is a significant step forward in ensuring quality school-age childcare.
Services that provide childcare for school-age children only must apply for registration by 18 May 2019 and are encouraged to start this process straightaway. School-age services that are already registered with Tusla as pre-school services must apply for registration by 18 August 2019. New services must apply for registration at least 3 months before opening.
Once registered, school age childcare services will be able to participate in the forthcoming Affordable Childcare Scheme launching in late 2019. This means families availing of these services will be able to access the financial benefits provided by the scheme.
Minister Zappone stated: “Today is another milestone in the development of quality, accessible and affordable early learning and care and school-age childcare in Ireland. I am delighted that the new School Age Childcare Regulations have now commenced. The new Regulations, which require that all school-age childcare services be registered with Tusla, will help to ensure that children attend services that are suitable, of high quality, and safe.”
The Regulations that came into force today are preliminary regulations. Later this year the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will embark on a public consultation process on the development of comprehensive regulations and national quality standards for school-age childcare. Both the Regulations and an Explanatory Guide are available on the Department’s website.
School-age childcare services can apply for registration online at www.tusla.ie.
If a school-age childcare service wants any support regarding the registration process, they should contact their local city/county childcare committee www.myccc.ie.
Online safety risks must be assessed by Organisations working with children and young people
Minister Zappone publishes Addendum to Children First Guidance
Friday 18th January 2019
Groups, clubs and services working with young people are required by law to assess and manage online risks, according to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.
Minister Zappone has signed and published an addendum to Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on on-line safety.
It makes clear that all organisations and services working with young people must include online risks and safeguards in their legally required Child Safeguarding Statements.
Safeguarding Statements have been a legal requirement since March 2018 after Minister Zappone commenced all sections of Children’s First in December 2017.
Speaking today the Minister said “The internet is a hugely valuable resource that has brought so many positive opportunities for learning, creating and communicating across the whole of society.
However, with these increased opportunities has come increased risks. There are those online who wish to harm, hurt or abuse our children. We all have a responsibility to offer protection and safety from this danger.
This responsibility extends to relevant services who offer internet access, PCs and wifi. Organisations who work with our young people need to know how to identify and manage these risks, and know the appropriate response if a child is at risk."
The Minister noted that the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children was fully revised and published in 2017 to reflect the provisions in the Act and stated “This addendum to the guidance does not alter or increase the obligations on organisations providing services to children under the Act, rather it clarifies that the specific issue of online safety should be considered when carrying out risk assessments and preparing Child Safeguarding Statements.”
The Minister added that a range of Government Departments and agencies have a role in relation to internet safety saying that, “the cross-Government approach required to tackle online safety issues is recognised in the Government’s Action Plan for Online Safety, which sets out the wide range of actions and activities that are underway across a number of Government Departments to support and promote online safety for children and adults”.
New Registration System Brings School Age Childcare into Affordable Childcare Scheme
- School age childcare services to be registered for first time with Tusla
- Minister Zappone signs the Childcare Support Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2018 and the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018, enabling school age childcare services to register and participate in new Affordable Childcare Scheme
- The families of over 17,750 school age children benefited from government childcare subsidies last year. Thousands more could benefit in 2019 through the Affordable Childcare Scheme
- Regulations represent an important first step in the full regulation and inspection of school age childcare services
- Another major milestone to quality affordable, accessible childcare
Thursday 27th December 2018
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, TD, has today signed Regulations which will provide, for the first time in Ireland, for the registration of school age childcare services.
Minister Zappone has signed the Childcare Support Act (Commencement) Order 2018, bringing into force key amendments to the Child Care Act 1991 in relation to the definition of school-age service.
This paves the way for Regulations- which the Minister also signed- on the mandatory registration of school-age services, procedures for registration and on-going requirements for continuing registration.
School age childcare services have not, to date, been subject to registration and, so, this is a significant step forward in ensuring quality school age childcare for thousands of working families.
Once registered, school age childcare services will be able to participate in the forthcoming Affordable Childcare Scheme launching in late 2019.
This means families availing of these services will be able to access the financial benefits provided by the scheme.
On signing the Regulations, Minister Zappone noted:
“We have been working tirelessly to deliver quality, accessible, affordable early learning and care and school age childcare in Ireland. Paramount to this is the ongoing development and improvement of quality provision for children. As such, I am delighted to establish a statutory registration system for school age childcare services; services that provide such a vitally important support to working parents throughout the country.
Parents can be assured that these new Regulations represent an important first step in paving the way for full regulation and inspection of school-age services in the future. They also ensure that parents will now have access to the Affordable Childcare Scheme when it launches next year. This progressive measure will, therefore, improve both the quality and affordability of school age childcare for Irish families over time.”
Only registered school age childcare services will be able to provide services under the Affordable Childcare Scheme. The regulations will come into effect on 18th February 2019 and services will be able to register with Tusla from that date. More detail on registration requirements are set out in the Frequently Asked Questions document which can be accessed at the following link, click here
A comprehensive and ‘plain English’ explanatory guide will also be published alongside the Regulations on the Department’s website.
Once the registration of school age services has been completed, more comprehensive regulations will be introduced in a move that mirrors the enhanced regulation and inspection of early learning and care settings over recent years.
Guide to Early Years Education Focused Inspection – Now available
It replaces the previous Guide to Early Years Education Focused Inspection (EYEI) in Early years Settings Participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme (2016). It was developed in light of the experience inspecting early years settings since April 2016 and following consultation with stakeholders and partners involved in the development and delivery of high quality early childhood education and care in Ireland.
14 May, 2018 - Government launch new project to bring specialised therapists into schools and pre-schools
150 schools and pre-schools taking part in Pilot, bringing speech and language therapists and occupational therapists into schools and pre-schools
Government focuses on early intervention and tailored supports
The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D., the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone T.D., and the Minister for Health, Mr. Simon Harris T.D. today (14th May, 2018) launched the first ever project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services. The project will be managed and co-ordinated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
The model has been developed by the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs and Health and is part of the government’s overall aim to help every child to fulfil their full potential.
The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allow for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’. Additionally, it is important to acknowledging that this innovative pilot will also compliment existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services within each of the nine Community Healthcare Organisations.
150 schools and pre-schools will test the model in Phase 1 of the project, which will take place over the course of the 2018/2019 school year. The project has been developed in conjunction with the Health Service Executive (HSE). €2.25m is being allocated to Phase One of the project in 2018.
As part of the programme, 19 speech and language therapists and 12 Occupational Therapists will be recruited by the HSE to work with the 150 schools and pre-schools. The NCSE will also recruit 2 National Co-ordinators to manage the project.
Phase one of the project will focus on:
- Early intervention and tailored supports.
- Bringing specialised therapists into schools and pre-schools to provide tailored support to children.
- Collaboration and greater linkages between therapists, parents, teachers and other school and pre-school staff.
- Developing greater linkages between educational and therapy supports.
- Providing professional training and guidance for school and pre-school staff and parents in supporting children’s therapy and developmental needs.
- Maximising the participation of parents in their children’s communication development.
- Launching the project in Presentation Primary School, the Minister for Education and Skills, said: “The government’s aim is to help every child to fulfil their potential. Identifying a speech and language issue in a child, and dealing with that issue, can have a dramatic impact on that child’s life prospects.
“We have set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. Parents tell us consistently that they would like to see greater levels of cooperation and integration between different services. A more cohesive, collaborative approach to delivering tailored supports to children in our schools is key to becoming the best.
“This model will bring together therapists and educational professionals who have until now often operated separately.
“It will allow them to work together to plan, collaborate, and share their professional knowledge and expertise. The project will allow therapists to use their time more efficiently to support greater numbers of pupils in school environments, where there are often large concentrations of need.
“The development of children’s speech and language capabilities is clearly linked to their capacity to develop literacy skills, and thus to access the curriculum. That is why we seek to address these issues at the earliest possible point and intervene early. We wish to see therapists and teachers working together to achieve better outcomes for children.”
Launching the project, Minister Zappone, said, “I am especially pleased that pre-schools will be central to the project. The 75 primary and post-primary schools that will take part will be matched by 75 pre-schools, demonstrating the importance of early intervention in supporting children with additional needs.
“We already know how important it is to act early in a child’s life to provide supports, and then to maintain supports throughout childhood. This project will test a practical and innovative approach to ensuring that both universal and targeted therapeutic supports are available in children’s early years.”
Minister Harris, said, “It is exciting to see such positive interagency collaboration between the health and education sectors that will result in the delivery of increased and better co-ordinated therapy supports for vulnerable Children”.
Consultation on the Draft Quality and Regulatory Framework (QRF)
The role of the Early Years Inspectorate is to promote and monitor the quality, safety and appropriate care of children by robust inspection of the sector. In order to support service providers we have been engaged in a process to develop a Quality and Regulatory Framework that sets out the requirements for compliance under the 2016 Early Years Regulations.
The Early Year’s Inspectorate is now inviting all interested parties to give their feedback on this draft of the QRF. The purpose of this consultation is
a) to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to give their views
b) to understand any potential concerns or challenges emerging
c) to identify potential training and other needs arising.
The questionnaire opens on Thursday 30th November and will close on Monday the 15th January 2018
Please click HERE to access the survey and further information from Tulsa.
Sept 2016: Grandfathering Declaration regarding Qualification Requirements for Early Years Services
From September 2016, all staff in early years services will need to have a full Level 5 Childcare qualification, and all Preschool (ECCE) Room Leaders will need a full Level 6 Childcare qualification.
Exemptions There are some people who have been working with children for many years and who wish to be exempted from the new qualification requirements. As the purpose of up-skilling is to boost quality in the best interests of children, it is only possible to do this in a very limited way.
The Minister has agreed to waive the minimum Level 5 requirement for a small number of staff who will be leaving the sector within the next 7 years. Individuals who expect to retire between September 2015 and September 2021 will not be required to meet the new qualification levels. If you will be due to retire in the coming years, and do not therefore wish to embark on a Level 5 course, you can sign a ‘Grandfathering Declaration’ with your local CCC. This offers a temporary exemption from having to have the Level 5 qualification, and is intended for those who will be retiring soon. Please note that this exemption only applies to the Level 5 qualification requirement and not to the Level 6 requirement.
Please contact Offaly County Childcare Committee if you are planning to retire in the coming years (between September 2015 and September 2021) and do not therefore wish to embark on a Level 5 course.
Early Years Inspectorate Update
In 2014, Tusla, The Child and Family Agency commissioned a Report on the Quality of Pre-School Services. 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 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 there are areas which require greater focus and attention. As a result, the Child & Family Agency has introduced a revised model of Pre-School Inspection. Commencing on 26th January 2015, the primary scope of pre-school inspection will be the areas identified as requiring improvement - Governance, Welfare and Safety.
The revised Inspection Tool and documentation can be downloaded from this website and all pre-school services are encouraged to review this documentation and evaluate their performance within these thematic areas. Please note, the full Pre-School Inspection format and the follow-up (review) Inspection format remains in place as required and appropriate.
Focused Inspection Tool 26/03/2015
Key Worker System
In an early years setting, it is good practice to have a Key Worker system in place. Although there is normally a team caring for the children, a 'Key Worker' should be designated to each child. Organising in this way, means that one practitioner has primary responsibility for gathering in-depth knowledge of the child, based on observations and interactions.
The Key Worker will foster close bonds with a small number of children in a way that large groups cannot easily do. These groups allow the key person to "tune into" children's play and their conversations, to really get to know the children in their group well. Children feel settled and happy and are more confident to explore and as a result become more capable learners.
Parents should be given the opportunity to have brief discussions about their child's development with the key worker and have an opportunity to talk through the child's records. The transition from home to service can be a big step for children of all ages but that transition is made much easier with the help of a Key Worker.
If you require support with introducing a Key Worker System, please contact Ruth in the office on 057-9135878.
Early Years Strategy
Ireland's First Early Years Strategy is being developed. It will focus on the lives of our youngest children and how we as a society can improve them, particularly through the provision of universal services. The Strategy will be written in the context of the Children and Young Peoples Policy Framework which will set out objectives, principles and outcomes that will underpin the age cohort or other strategies that are developed in relation to children. While we know from the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal study and other research that in general Irish children are happy, are engaged in society and have friends, there are things that we can do to improve their experiences, helping them to become resilient, self-confident and engaged adults and citizens. We can also support parents to help their children learn and develop. There are also children whose lives are not happy and who grow up in circumstances that disadvantage them throughout their lives. The Early Years Strategy will, therefore, set out plans to address a range of issues that affect young children.
‘Right from the Start’, is the report of the Expert Advisory Group established to make recommendations for Ireland’s first-ever Early Years Strategy which is currently being prepared by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
At the launch in 2013, Minister Fitzgerald spoke of the importance of early intervention: “I have consistently highlighted the importance of investing and supporting quality interventions in the early years of children’s lives. In Ireland, we have so much to gain from early intervention in seeking to address major challenges and to interrupt both current and future crises. If we want to improve literacy and numeracy, which is critical; then we must start early. If we want to disrupt the crisis of childhood obesity – a quarter of our three years are overweight or obese - Then we must start early. Put simply: early intervention works; the early years matter.”
Welcoming and accepting the report, the Minister stated: “By setting out such a comprehensive range of recommendations for the continuum of service and support for Irelands youngest children and their families, from early childhood health, to supporting parents to ensuring quality in early years provision; this report brings a much needed focus to areas of policy which for too long were discounted and undervalued.” The Minister said that the high quality of the Report will provide a very strong foundation for finalisation of a robust and meaningful strategy to serve our youngest children and their families well over the coming years. The Minister acknowledged that: “This report provides for the first time, a strategic approach to the development of Ireland early years; not just for now, not for just for this budget, not just for this Government. This is a strategic approach for years to come. I welcome the incremental approach set out in the report. Additional funding and major new programmes will not be rolled out overnight. A multi-annual approach is what is required; and with it’s ‘five peaks over five years’ this report very significantly set out the destinations for a multi-annual roadmap”.
Under the Childcare (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006, all childcare providers and HSE notified child-minders must avail of Garda Vetting for all staff, CE Scheme participants, TÚS participants, volunteers and students over 18 years of age. There must be evidence of this on file in the childcare premises such as the returned certificate advising of the outcome of the Garda Vetting process. This is a key element in ensuring children within services are protected and an important part of ensuring a quality service.
Article 8 (2c) of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006 states: ‘Any person carrying on a pre-school service is required to ensure appropriate vetting of all staff, students and volunteers who have access to a child -
(a) by reference to past employer references in particular the most recent employer reference, in respect of all staff, and
(b) by reference to references from reputable sources, in respect of all students and volunteers, and
(c) by acquiring Garda vetting from An Garda Síochána when An Garda Síochána have set down procedures to make such vetting available, and
(d) in circumstances where Garda vetting is not available for staff, students and volunteers who have lived outside the jurisdiction, by ensuring that these persons provide the necessary police vetting from other police authorities.
Section 8 (3) Such vetting procedures shall be carried out prior to any person being appointed or assigned or being allowed access to a child in the pre-school service.
Good practice would suggest that existing staff should be Garda Vetted every five years. The development of appropriate policies in relation to recruitment, child protection, training, garda vetting and reference checking of staff and volunteers within the service is paramount to ensuring the protection and welfare of children in the care of the service and in providing quality childcare.