I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 59 together.
The operation and maintenance of the register of early years services is a matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which is the independent statutory regulator. Since this is a regulatory issue, my Department does not have a direct role in the processing of registration applications or maintenance of the register. Tusla was given additional powers in 2016 which included the registration of services. The deadline for re-registration has been known to providers since then and indeed it appears on their registration certificate. Over the past 18 months, Tusla has been engaging with providers on requirements for re-registration, including through a consultative forum of stakeholders. Tusla issued further guidance to service providers in August 2019 on specific documentation required on planning permission as part of the re-registration process.
In order to be registered on 1 January 2020, providers must submit an application for re-registration by midnight on 12 December 2019. Providers were urged to submit their applications in advance of this date, given the large volume of applications expected. The deadline of 12 December was necessary in order to give Tusla time to process all applications. To minimise uncertainty for providers, last week, on 5 December, Tusla issued a further letter to all providers, offering assurance that any provider who submits a completed application with the specified essential documents by 12 December will be re-registered. All providers who submit a completed application will be issued a further individual confirmation of re-registration by 20 December and will be able to continue operation of their service in January.
I am informed by Tusla that the total number of early years services that are due to re-register by 31 December 2019 is 4,117. As of Monday morning, 3,752 services had commenced the application process on the Tusla portal. Of these, 3,081 applications had been submitted via the online portal for assessment. Therefore, 671 applications are commenced but not yet submitted and just 365 have yet to start the application process. I have a further update to add to that in the supplementary reply.
Submitted applications are currently being processed in batches through a series of specially convened registration panels. My Department has been working closely with Tusla to ensure there is adequate staffing in place to process applications on time, and to assist with effective communications with providers. In addition, my Department has supported city and county childcare committees to give advice and assistance to providers that need help with re-registration. In recognition of the difficulties many providers were experiencing in completing re-registration, as the Deputies know, Tusla decided to revise the timeline for submission of supporting documentation for re-registration. Under the revised arrangements, while providers must apply to Tusla by 12 December, they have until 30 June 2020 to provide some of the supporting documentation required, including on fire safety and planning requirements. On 27 November, my Department issued a letter informing providers that Tusla has revised the timeline for submission of supporting documentation for re-registration. That letter provided clear guidance on what is required by 12 December and what can be submitted up until 30 June.