General Information on the New Early Years Registration System

Under Section 92, Child and Family Agency Act 2013, the new Child and Family Agency is required to provide for a system of registration of Early Years Services.  This means that all new Early Years service providers will have to register with the Agency and undergo an inspection before commencing operation.  Existing services will be deemed registered on an interim basis but will be required to apply for registration and undergo an inspection in due course.

The model of registration is in its final stages of design and will replace Section 10, Child Care Pre-School Regulations 2006 which simply required service providers to notify the relevant authority of their intention to commence operations. The main difference for service providers is that previously new services were inspected after commencing operation, while under the registration system services cannot operate unless they have passed an inspection by the Child and Family Agency.

Registration

The Registration process is in two phases:

  1. The Agency will assess the proposed service against the relevant standards and regulations to ensure that it will be fit for purpose.  This phase will include a paper application and a site visit. If it is deemed fit for purpose, the service will be able to commence operations.
  2. The Agency will inspect the service against the National Standards for Early Years Services once it is operational in order to determine its ongoing registration status.

Phase 1:

  • Applications with all required supporting documentation must be made to the designated Child and Family Agency officer.  Applications will be assessed to ensure that they are completed satisfactorily and all supporting documentation will be assessed for suitability. If there are any problems identified during this initial assessment the applicant will be advised and offered an opportunity to amend, rescind or revoke the application. If the application is found to be complete the application process will progress.
  • The Agency will request further documentation and information which are required by the standards and regulations.
    • If the further documentation and information is accepted, the Agency will arrange an inspection visit to the premises.
    • If the further documentation and information is not accepted, the Agency will advise of any omission or short fall in the documentation and give an opportunity to amend.
  • ​The site visit will be carried out by an Early Years Inspector, who will carry out an evidence based assessment of findings and make a recommendation for registration to the designated agency official or Registrar.​
    • If satisfied that the application and premises meets all of the requirements of the standards and regulations, the Registrar will enter the Early Years service onto the public register of Early Years Services.The service can commence operation and the Registrar will issue written confirmation of registration.

If the registrar is not satisfied with the application, s/he may add conditions to the registration or may refuse to register the service.

In the event that the applicant is dissatisfied with the decision of the registrar, representations may be made within 21 days of receiving the written confirmation of conditions or refusal to the registrar to address the reasons for the condition or the refusal. Alternatively the applicant may write to the Agency of its intention to refer the matter to the district courts.

Phase 2:

  • After three months in operation, the service will be inspected against the National Standards for Early Years Services. The outcome of the inspection will determine whether the service can continue on the Early Years Register. This stage will usually be an unannounced inspection, or in some circumstances the inspection may be announced. During this stage, staff and parents will be formally invited to share their views with the inspectorate regarding the operation of the service.
  • A written report of the Inspecting Officer’s findings will be compiled and quality assured. At this point, the service provider will have an opportunity to respond.
  • Once the report is completed, the Inspecting Officer will make a recommendation for the continued registration of the service to the Registrar and as before the Registrar can agree to the recommendations, or seek further clarification but will ultimately make an evidence based decision regarding the ongoing registration of the service. As before, if the applicant is dissatisfied they can make representations to the Registrar.
  • Once the registration is finalised, the report will be published online at www.pobal.ie.
  • Registration will last for three years from the date of the grant of initial registration.

Services opened since 1 January 2014

These services will be registered on an administrative basis pending the introduction of revised Early Years regulations, whereupon the service will be deemed registered.

Existing Early Years Services previously notified under Section 10 of the Child Care (Pre-School) Regulations 2006.

All Early Years Services in operation before 1 January 2014 will be deemed registered.  However, these services will have to apply to the Child and Family Agency to be re-registered.  The Agency will contact affected services in due course to advise when they need to re-register.

In these cases, the two phases of the registration process will be taken together.

Once service providers are notified that they need to re-register, they will be required to submit all supporting documentation in advance and undergo an inspection.

Registration decisions will be based on both the application and the inspection.  If a service provider is dissatisfied with any decision of the registrar regarding registration, they may make representations to the Registrar and/or may make a referral to the District Court.

All inspection reports will be published online.

Registration Fees Payable

It should be noted that it is the intention of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to revoke the current Child Care (Pre-School) Regulations 2006 and introduce updated regulations to reflect the new registration process. As part of the update, notification fees will be replaced by an annual registration fee. The amount of the fee is yet to be determined and will be published in due course. It is expected that fee collection for 2014 will commence shortly and an electronic on line fee collection system is currently being created for this purpose.

Revised Early Years Regulations 2014

As mentioned above the existing regulations will be replaced by the Early Years Regulations 2014, these regulations are expected to be published before the end of the year.  Together with the National Standards for Early Years Services they will form the context in which statutory inspections will take place. It is expected that once the regulations and standards are published, the commencement order for the new regulations will be signed off by the Minister.

Consultation

The Child and Family Agency will commence a series of online consultations in Autumn 2014 about the inspection tools and pro-formas which will support the new registration and inspection processes. Further information will be published on www.tusla.ie at that time.

Please note that Registration is not in force yet.

Following the public consultation and the publication of the revised regulations, all service providers will be notified of the commencement date.