The safety and protection of children remains the first priority of Government. Safety and protection is assured through the enforcement of regulations which have children at the heart of their implementation.
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. De-registrations and prosecutions are evidence of Tusla’s robust approach in taking action where it finds evidence of non-compliance with childcare Regulations.
I have great sympathy for parents who, due to de-registration of their crèche, now need to find alternative childcare options. This is particularly difficult if alternative provision is limited in the local area.
Tusla has given a commitment to greater communication on the regulatory process with parents in 2020 so that as much information as possible is shared with them in a timely manner. Tusla has also committed to fast-tracking applications for registration additional capacity in an area where a service has been de-registered or closed.
Where a service is removed from the register, the staff of 30 City and County Childcare Committees nationwide are available to support parents who need help finding alternative provision. Their contact details can be found at myccc.ie
CCCs will also assist providers who are considering expansion or the opening of a new service.
Childminding Ireland may also be able to assist parents who are considering a childminding option.
Capacity in the sector has doubled in the last 5 years following significant investment and growth, although I recognise that capacity constraints remain in some areas. My Department is actively seeking to increase capacity, through a range of measures including its annual capital funding scheme and through plans to open up regulation and funding schemes to paid, non-relative childminders.
In 2019, I provided €5.9m towards the creation of new places within the Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare sector. I hope to announce details for a new 2020 capital scheme in the coming weeks.