There are approximately 4,500 Tusla registered early learning and care and school-age childcare services operating in Ireland. Tusla has assured me that there is a high level of compliance with regulations across the country.
Services that are under review by Tusla’s National Registration and Enforcement Panel are subject to a high and intensive level of scrutiny by Tusla. This does not imply that children attending these services are at risk or should be removed from the services.
It is essential to note that where there is evidence of a serious risk to children, Tusla bring this to the attention of the social work services, in which instance parents are informed.
It is usual practice that the majority of services under review by the National Registration and Enforcement Panel make the necessary improvements to the standards of care and are then de-escalated from this level of concern.
Services may be escalated to the National Registration and Enforcement Panel for the following reasons:
- for proposed removal due to the level of persistent breaches of the regulations or conditions attached;
- where an unauthorised service refuses to close;
- for refusal of new registration, as the application has not met the minimum criteria of the registration process or it is identified that the premises are unsuitable;
- where unsolicited information has been risk rated as critical;
- where a serious incident has been notified to Tusla;
- where further deliberation is requested from the senior case manager.
It is not possible to comment on individual services that are subject to regulatory or prosecutorial enforcement actions as this may limit or prejudice the process, which would not be in the best interest of children and families.
The number of services at “critical” status is continually changing as some services come off the list and others come on to it. Of the 37 services highlighted at the Joint Oireachtas Committee, a significant number have already made the necessary improvements to the standards of care required and have been - or are to be - de-escalated.