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Childcare Services Regulation

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 15 October 2019

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Questions (584)

Richard Boyd Barrett


584. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a service (details supplied) is to be shut down on 11 October 2019 at the request of Tusla; the reason for same; the steps she can take to ensure the restoration of an after-school service for the parents and children affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42133/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department has liaised with Tusla to answer this question. Tusla is the independent statutory regulator of early learning and care and school age childcare services in Ireland. In performing its regulatory function, its actions include responding to breaches of regulations while respecting fair procedures and natural justice.

Tusla conducted an inspection of the service in question - which catered for both pre-school and school-age children - in line with the requirements of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 on 19 June 2019. During this inspection it was observed that the service, which was approved for 140 children, was operating outside its registration status, with 171 children observed in attendance. Tusla advised the service to revert immediately to its approved registration status, and to take immediate remedial action to address the risk posed to children on the premises due to inadequate insurance. Tusla also referred the service to the Chief Fire Officer of Dublin City Council and to the Planning and Enforcement Section of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

Tusla carried out a follow-up inspection of the service on 10 September 2019, and found that up to 150 children were attending the service on a given day. Tusla again instructed the service to revert to its approved registration status.

Tusla also received an application from the registered provider for registration of a school-age service which highlighted that the service has been operating in contravention of its planning permission, which states that the number of children to be accommodated at the facility must not exceed 141.  This has resulted in the regrettable situation described.

I appreciate the understandable frustration of the parents involved, and I know that Tusla does also. However, the safety and welfare of children must be our foremost priority, and services must abide by the legislation that is in place.

Tusla continues to engage with the registered provider to resolve this matter as expeditiously as possible.

30 City and Childcare Committees across the country are available to support parents and providers with issues relating to early learning and care and school age childcare. In this instance, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Childcare Committee is available to support parents who need assistance with sourcing alternative service provision and they have been working with local providers to ascertain availability of places, and with new services in the area who intend to create additional places.