I propose to take Questions Nos. 631 and 632 together.
The removal of crèches from the Register of Early Years Services is the ultimate sanction by Tusla, the independent statutory Regulator. It comes at the end of an enforcement process, during which a provider is afforded fair procedure, and generally provided with several opportunities to rectify matters and meet regulatory requirements. Tusla does not take the decision lightly and generally does so because of persistent and serious non-compliance with the Regulations.
My Department is notified of the closure by Tusla one to two days in advance or, at the latest, on the day of the letter issuing to the provider advising of the removal from the register. As the services are required to close after a 21 day notice period, the Department is aware of the de-registration at least 21 working days in advance.
This allows the Department to put in train supports through the City and County Childcare Committee and to liaise with Pobal in order to cease funding.
Separately, from time to time Tusla is notified of services operating without registration or outside the scope of their registration. This information is usually brought to Tusla’s attention through three channels:
- Unsolicited information from parents raising a concern regarding the quality or safety of the service;
- Directly from the service provider requesting to register or to change circumstances;
- On inspection.
When Tusla is notified of a service operating without registration, it:
- Seeks to confirm if the service is operational;
- Issues a cease and desist letter to the service as appropriate and advises the service to immediately contact the Early Years Registration Office to make an application for registration;
- Sometimes Tusla seeks warrants from the District Court to inspect the service and gather evidence.
Tusla works with providers to bring them to compliance and most providers work constructively with Tusla to achieve this. Where Tusla is unable to bring the service into compliance and a decision is made to de-register the service, the Department is notified of this decision by Tusla.