Tusla Registration Portal for School Age Service and Early Years Service is now live

The portal through which to register your School Age Service and to renew your registration of your Early Years Service is now live.

The attached guidance documents outline the application arrangements that are now in place to assist service providers in meeting the registration requirements under legislation.

The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018 require providers of School Age Services who operate within a registered Early Years Service to make a registration application by 18th August 2019. It is understood that this timeframe will not be attainable and Tusla ask instead that you make your application as soon as is practicable.
Additionally, Early Years Providers who were first granted registration under the Statutory Declaration Form process (SDF) in June 2016 will have to reapply for registration (re-registration or registration renewal) by the end of 2019. Registration under the Early Years Regulations (2016) is only permitted for a period of three years, an application for renewal of registration is then required.

To assist you in this process Tusla have developed an online application process which will facilitate providers who are operating a School Age Service within their Early Years Service as a wraparound type service to apply to register both service types using one application portal.

School Age and Re-Registration Guidance

Fire and Planning Requirements for Early Years Services Re Registration

 

Learner Fund Graduate Bursary Application form Autumn 2019

The Department of Children & Youth Affairs (DCYA) will re-open the Learner Fund Bursary to Early Learning and Care practitioners who are new graduates of a recognised Early Childhood Education and Care degree programme. The local City/County Childcare Committees (CCC) will process and appraise Learner Fund Bursary applications.

  1. The qualification for which the bursary is paid must be on the DCYA Early Learning and Care Recognised Qualifications list.
  2. The award must be placed at level 7/8/9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and was achieved in the academic years 2013-2019.
  3. The bursary amount will be €750.
  4. The qualification must be a full, major award; the bursary will not be paid in respect of partially completed awards.
  5. A letter of eligibility to practice from DCYA stating that the applicant may work as an ECCE room leader at the higher capitation rate can also be accepted
  6. The qualification for which the bursary is paid must be that which qualifies the person to work in the Early Learning and Care sector (and is at least level 7 on the NFQ).
  7. Applicants may only apply once and cannot be granted the Learner Fund bursary for a second time if they have already received it before
  8. The applicant cannot have received any public funding in support of their completing the award relating to this application.
  9. The bursary is only available to experienced practitioners who were working in a Tusla registered Early Learning & Care service prior to beginning their course.
  10. Applicants must be currently working in a Tusla registered Early Learning & Care Service.
  11. Staff working in standalone School Age Childcare services are not eligible to apply.
  12. Applicants can apply with a full transcript of the completed degree in lieu of a graduating certificate. A full transcript; can be obtained from the educational institution and must show clearly that the learner has been awarded the full degree.  Screenshots or downloads from student accounts / portals will cannot be accepted.
  13. Late or incomplete applications; will not be accepted.
  14. Decision of the CCC is final and cannot be appealed.

 

Please complete and return: Learner Fund Graduate Bursary Application Form Autumn 2019 (1)

 

Timeframe for applications:

19th August Call for applications open by CCCs

 

27th September All forms must be fully completed and returned BY POST OR BY HAND to your local CCC no later than 5PM on Friday 27th September 2019

 

Minister Zappone will strengthen child protection and quality requirements for early years services Additional regulations to increase Tusla’s enforcement powers, 30th July 2019

 

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, will strengthen quality requirements for early years services. This reiterates her commitment made in First 5 (the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families), to review the Regulations for early years services.

Minister Zappone has written to the Chair of Tusla requesting that they outline the necessary changes to strengthen their enforcement powers.  Changes are required to speed up the process by the regulator of responding to unacceptable standards.

 

Examination of additional powers for Tusla

Minister Zappone has asked officials in her Department to examine what additional powers can be given to Tusla, to close down or suspend services immediately, where it has critical concerns.  This may require amendments to the Child Care Act so that permanent or temporary closures can happen.

The Minister has asked officials to consider best practice nationally and internationally while examining the powers available to her. She has also asked officials to examine how parents can be informed at the earliest possible opportunity of concerns being investigated. Currently, Tusla can only publish reports after due process and this process may take time, during which parents may have no idea that the regulator has concerns.

 

Mandatory display of certificate of Registration and conditions

The Minister will add new regulations to make it mandatory for Early Years Providers, to display prominently, a certificate of Registration on their premises. alongside details of any conditions imposed by Tusla. New Regulations, that came into force in 2016, required the registration of all Early Learning and Care services and gave Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate the power to deregister services, or to attach conditions to their registration. This year Tusla has attached conditions to 95 Early Years Services.

Minister Zappone said: “I was appalled to witness the intolerable treatment of children shown in the RTÉ Investigates programme last week.  It was reprehensible to witness this type of behaviour despite having improved standards and regulations and increasing the number of inspections.

“As Minister for Children my priority has, and will always be, putting the protection of the child first.  Parents should always feel confident in placing their children into a childcare facility registered with the State. It’s very important that parents understand that not every childcare facility in the country has issues like the ones shown last week. Most service providers work tirelessly to provide a great service and I commend those services.

“However, I want to send a strong message to the tiny number that do not operate in the best interests of children – the regulator will not tolerate this, and I will not tolerate it.

“I am determined to provide, where necessary and where legally possible, the authority to strengthen Tusla’s powers to ensure all early learning care providers deliver a high-quality, child-centred service.”

 

Professional Regulator

The Minister has instructed that the establishment of a Professional Regulator be prioritised. She had previously set out her intention to establish a Professional Regulator, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills, for the early learning and care sector in First 5.  This is being considered under the Workforce Development Group, established recently. The Minister expects that this regulator would operate a fitness to practice function. This would remove any practitioners who do not provide the correct standard of care.

 

Investment in childcare

There has been a 117% increase in Government investment in the last four Budgets. This has enabled additional investments in quality, whilst also delivering significant improvements in affordability and access. Some of the investments in quality include:

  • A significant increase in funding for Tusla’s inspectorate, resulting in an increase in the number of (whole-time-equivalent) inspectors from 37 in 2014 to 58 today. As a result there has, since 2014, been a 90% increase in the number of inspections carried out each year. In 2018, Tusla carried out 2,513 inspections. (There are currently 4,435 early learning and care services registered with Tusla.). Tusla now systematically carries out unannounced inspections.
  • In January 2018, Tusla established an ‘unsolicited information’ office, to process information, concerns and complaints about early years services. These can inform the inspection and registration process. 413 pieces of information were received in 2018.
  • In December 2018, Minister Zappone signed into law the first ever Regulations for School-Age Childcare Services. Those Regulations came into force in February of this year, and the registration process for all school-age childcare services is under way right now. It will now be possible for Tusla to inspect school-age services – something that was previously not possible.

 

Developing a new model of public funding

Minister Zappone will announce shortly the establishment of an independently chaired expert group to look at a new model of public funding. It will address affordability and quality.  This commitment, initially set out in First 5, will look at how fees to parents can be controlled, and how services can be incentivised for high quality. The new National Childcare Scheme to be introduced later this year will only be available through registered providers, both centre-based (creches) and home based (childminders).

 

Budget 2020 negotiations – further investment requirements

In preparation for Budget 2020 negotiations, Minister Zappone is seeking a package of investment for increased quality measures. These include, further resources for registration and inspection; increased funding for Continuous Professional Development – including training in the early years curriculum; further enhancements to the Learner fund; the development of mechanisms to withdrawn funding from service providers who do not meet quality requirements; and the development of guidance for parents to ensure that they can recognise high quality in early learning and care services. Increased Investment in upskilling the workforce is a priority for her.

Concluding, Minister Zappone reiterated her determination to continue to examine additional safeguards to root out the despicable behaviour seen last week. “The vast majority of those working in Early Learning and Care are champions of children. They care, they educate, and they take pride in playing their part in children’s development. The existence of a dedicated Department of Children and Youth Affairs in Ireland is evidence of the commitment to focus on doing what is required to deliver the best child outcomes. I will not rest when it comes to the quality of care and education we deliver to our youngest children. We know that high quality experiences provided at this young age can have a massively positive impact on the lives and future outcomes of our youngest children. It is essential that 100% of services meet the standard we have set out as required of them.”

 

See Full Press Release: HERE

DCYA PRESS RELEASE: Minister Zappone response to RTÉ investigation into crèche failings

25 July 2019

Speaking in the wake of yesterday evening’s RTÉ Investigates programme Behind Closed Doors, Minister Zappone expressed her shock and anger at the mistreatment of children in the crèches investigated.

Commenting on the undercover footage, Minister Zappone said, “I was appalled and horrified. I share parents’ distress at seeing young children being subjected to such abhorrent behaviour. I am disgusted by what I saw.”

Minister Zappone acknowledged that many parents who saw the programme will be worried for their own children who attend crèches. However, she assured parents that a number of authoritative and independent sources have assured her that the vast majority of services meet required standards.

She also expressed her confidence in Tusla, the independent regulator of these services, and gave assurance that Tusla has been taking robust action to address the poor standards and management failings in the crèches that were focus of the RTÉ Investigates programme. However, the evidence presented last night was new and not available to the Inspectors up to now. She acknowledged that Tusla has closed 5 services in the last 18 months and is at advanced stages of enforcement process with many others. Evidence such as that gathered by RTÉ or provided by parents and staff can assist Tusla with its enforcement procedures.

Tusla has inspected the crèches covered in the RTÉ programme a number of times under the new Regulations that came into force in 2016. Whenever it has identified failings, it has required changes. Tusla has been actively pursuing enforcement actions in relation to the services. Tusla took one of the services to Court earlier this year for operating without registration. The service is now registered with conditions, which Tusla continues to actively monitor.

While stressing that mistreatment of children is never acceptable, Minister Zappone cautioned that due process must be followed in all Tusla’s investigations. This is ultimately to protect children and ensure that justice is served.

The RTÉ investigation offered many reminders of the 2013 RTÉ investigation, A Breach of Trust, be it that last night’s programme was in relation to one service owner in particular. Minister Zappone noted that standards have risen across the board since 2013. While RTÉ has again captured management failings and mistreatment of children on camera, Minister Zappone believes information available points to these being the exception.

Minister Zappone said, “While there is clearly more to be done to improve quality standards, we have come a long way and we must maintain this momentum for several years to come. My Department has introduced a minimum qualification for all staff working with children in crèches or pre-school services, we established a national Quality Development Service where experts are available to mentor and advise Early Learning and Care practitioners, and this year I introduced – for the first time – Regulations for school-age childcare.”

Minister Zappone continued, “In addition, Tusla was given new powers in 2016 and I have substantially increased Tusla’s funding, which has enabled it to nearly double the number of inspections since 2014 and to address malpractice where it is found. Tusla has deregistered 5 services in the last 18 months, others have closed down as a result of its efforts, 95 services have had conditions attached to their registration in 2019 alone, and the services filmed by RTÉ had already been the subject of on-going investigation and action by Tusla. Tusla’s enforcement activity is gathering strength and pace and my Department will do everything it can to support further development”

Minister Zappone reiterated the commitment in First 5 (the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families) to review the Regulations for early years services. As part of this review, she said that she will be asking officials in her Department to examine whether Tusla needs and can be given additional powers to close down or suspend services immediately where it has critical concerns, and to examine ways to ensure that parents are informed at the earliest possible date of the findings of its investigations. She encouraged all parents and staff to report poor practice so that it can be effectively addressed, and she thanked those who have provided such information to Tusla to assist with regulatory and enforcement actions.

ENDS//

Notes for editors:

The footage in the RTÉ Investigates programme, Behind Closed Doors, focused on crèches that are part of a single family-run group of businesses. The services are – and have been – subject to investigation by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which is the independent statutory regulator and inspectorate of early years services. Because of the risk of prejudicing the outcome of on-going investigations, neither Tusla nor the Minister is able to comment on the detail of Tusla’s investigations.
Earlier in 2019, Tusla took the provider to Court for operating one of the crèches without registration. The service is now registered with conditions attached to the registration.
Under Section 58D of the Child Care Act 1991 (as amended by the Child and Family Agency Act 2013), where a person is convicted under that Part of the Act or is convicted of a related offence, Tusla may remove that person from the register. However, only convictions since 2016 may be taken into account. While the provider of some of the crèches shown in the RTÉ programme has prior convictions, these were from before 2016 and may not be taken into account by Tusla.
The 2013 amendments to the Child Care Act 1991, and the 2016 Regulations that were developed as a result, have given Tusla important new powers, including: creating a register of services, giving Tusla the power deregister services, and giving Tusla the power to attach conditions to a service’s registration.
Where Tusla seeks to de-register a service, it must give the service 21 days notice of its intention to do so, together with evidence for its action. The service may appeal this to the District Court. The time frame for this process varies.
Investment in Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare services has increased by 117% over the last 4 budgets, to address access, affordability and quality.
Reforms undertaken since the 2013 RTÉ Prime Time Investigates documentary, A Breach of Trust, include:
The publication of all inspection reports. (Publication takes place at the end of a robust process that includes giving the provider the right of reply.)
The introduction of a minimum qualification requirement for staff working directly with children in early learning and care services. (The minimum requirement is a full qualification in Early Childhood Care and Education at Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications. 22% of staff in the sector have degrees and this is incentivised through higher capitation payments from DCYA for graduates delivering the ECCE programme.)
A move to systematically carry out inspections on an unannounced basis.
A significant increase in funding for Tusla’s inspectorate, resulting in an increase in the number of (whole-time-equivalent) inspectors from 37 in 2014 to 58 today. As a result there has, since 2014, been a 90% increase in the number of inspections carried out each year. In 2018, Tusla carried out 2,513 inspections. (There are currently 4,435 early learning and care services registered with Tusla.)
Major reform of the Tusla Inspectorate’s governance and management structure in 2015. The Inspectorate now operates on a national basis, with consistent operational policies and procedures, and enhanced line management and supervisory structures.
Establishment within Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate of an Unsolicited Information office in January 2018, to process information, concerns and complaints about early years services.
Introduction of the first-ever Regulations for School-Age Childcare Services, which came into force in February 2019. As a result of the new Regulations, the registration process for all school-age childcare services is currently under way, and it will now be possible for Tusla to inspect school-age services, which was previously not possible.
Introduction of – and substantially increased funding for – a range of quality initiatives, including: the Better Start Quality Development Service (established in 2014) which employs 130 mentors to advise and support early learning and care services; education-focused inspections of the ECCE programme by the Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate (begun in 2016); a dedicated “Learner Fund” to support upskilling of staff (since 2014); and a significant increase in funding for staff training.
Publication in 2018 of First 5, the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young children and their Families, which sets out a 10-year vision to improve quality in the Early Learning and Care sector and includes a commitment to review the Regulations, to have a graduate-led workforce and to double public investment.

PRESS RELEASE

CPD Payments for Hanen, Lámh, and NSAI Training 2019

CPD Payments will be issued to all services for participants who completed Hanen and/or Lámh between April 2019 and 29th of June 2019 and/or Aistear and Play (NSAI) between March 2019 and 5th June 2019 on the 19th of July 2019.

Please note that each staff member can avail of a maximum of 18 hours of paid CPD training per calendar year and payments are calculated on this basis. Payments for all participants will be made to the employer/ childcare setting and NOT to the individual. Re-imbursement by way of payment or time worked is the responsibility of the employer.

The rate of payment is €13 per hour.

If you have any queries regarding your payments; please contact onlinesupport@pobal.ie or 01-5117222

The National Healthy Childhood Programme Newsletter 6: Summer 2019

The HSE have launched a new website for parents and expectant parents www.mychild.ie. You can find out more about this and other initiatives in the Healthy Childhood Programme Summer 2019 Newsletter from HSE Community Healthcare. Just click the link below to view and download the pdf.

The National Healthy Childhood Programme Newsletter 6: Summer 2019

Childminder Development Grant 2019

Carlow CCC are pleased to announced that the Childminding Development Grant 2019 is now open!!

A €1000 grant is available for people providing a home based childminding service. If you are childminding or are intending to open a childminding service in your own home, you can avail of the grant scheme.

The childminding development grant is designated to purchase toys, educational materials and equipment or make some minor household adaptations to assist you in developing quality home based childminding service.

To be eligible to apply for the grant, you should have the following

Minimum numbers of children in your service:

  1. a)3 children on a part time basis

OR

  1. b) 1 child full time basis and 1 child on a part time basis

Completion of adequate training:

Quality Awareness Programme and Introduction to Always Children First: Tusla’s ELearning programme

(https://www.tusla.ie/children-first/children-first-e-learning-programme/)

OR 

Equivalent childminding course or quality related training.

  1. Required to operate as a childminder for a minimum of two years following receipt of the grant. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  

Application Process

You may apply for a 90% grant up to €1,000 for small capital items. To get the maximum of €1,000 you need to spend €1,111 or more.

The Closing date for the Childminding Development Grant Application 2019 is Wednesday the 14th of August 2019.

CMDG Application form

Contact Carlow CCC 059 9140244 or email connie@carlowccc.ie for more information.

DCYA Press Release re: National Childcare Scheme

Monday July 1st 2019

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, T.D., will update Government this week on the development of the new National Childcare Scheme.  Good progress is being made.  Many of the major elements are now in place in preparation for the Scheme’s opening in October 2019.

  •     Over 2,100 providers have signed up to participate in the Scheme.
  •     A dedicated website, launched in March, has received over 150,000 hits and over 50,000 parent information booklets have been distributed nationwide.
  •     A Parent Support Centre for the National Childcare Scheme opened last week.  It is available to assist parents or guardians with any queries regarding the new National Childcare Scheme. It is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am – 5:00pm and parents can contact the centre by calling (01) 906 8530.

While good progress is being made, the Minister noted that the development of the Scheme is highly complex and has thrown up challenges along the way.  This would be expected with a scheme of this size which will benefit many families across Ireland. In particular, the Minister referenced the development of the Scheme’s supporting ICT system.  The highly innovative system is being designed to deliver the option of a user-friendly, paperless, automated assessment process for parents.

The Minister explained:
“We know parents have a lot on their plate, so we are designing an application process that will be as safe, speedy and stress-free as possible.  This means that we have to plan for and develop 30,000 different applicant circumstances and choices through the system, to cater for all possible variations.”

Given the ambition of the National Childcare Scheme, and the associated challenges this brings, the experts overseeing its development have recommended a phased launch approach.  While the main IT system to deal with online applications is largely built, work is continuing on the supporting structures to deal with postal applications. We will deliver online, on time, in October.  The paper based system will be available in January for those who do not wish to apply online.

Parents will be able to apply for the Scheme online or by post.  In order to get the Scheme safely up and running, it will open firstly to online applications, commencing in October 2019, with subsidy payments flowing from November.  The Scheme will then open to paper-based (i.e. postal) applications in January 2020.  From this point on, parents can apply either via the online or the postal route.

Accepting the expert recommendation, the Minister noted that:
“This approach allows us to deliver the important benefits of the Scheme to parents and providers from this October as promised.  It also allows us to deliver the type of timely, user-friendly experience which we have worked so hard to design and which innovative ICT enables.  Alongside this, we have supports in place to ensure that any parent who wishes to apply online but lacks IT access or knowledge can get practical help.

“In addition to our new Parent Support Centre, all 30 of our City and County Childcare Committees are available to provide information and practical support to parents. We have also been working with and providing training to many key stakeholders and groups who support vulnerable families.  In addition, we have been delighted to engage positively with Intreo Offices, Citizens Information Services and library services, and will be continuing this important work in the weeks and months ahead.”

The Minister emphasised the importance of parents getting MyGovID-verified so that they are ready to apply for the Scheme once it launches later this year.

The Parent Support Centre will help parents with any queries they may have regarding the application process. Their local City or County Childcare Committee is also available to help.

The National Childcare Scheme is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare in Ireland. It aims to improve outcomes for children, support lifelong learning, reduce child poverty and tangibly reduce the cost of quality childcare for thousands of families across Ireland.

To ensure continuity of service for both parents and providers, the existing childcare support programmes will continue to operate until the launch of the National Childcare Scheme and for the 2019/2020 programme year. Children registered on these schemes will be able to remain on them for the duration of the academic year or switch over to the National Childcare Scheme once it launches.

Further information for parents and providers is available on the Scheme’s dedicated website: ncs.gov.ie

Press Release: https://www.dcya.gov.ie/docs/EN/01-07-2019-National-Childcare-Scheme-Statement/5365.htm

Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, launched the Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings on Monday 10th June.  These guidelines offer guidance on building, renovation and refurbishment of centres for Early Learning and Care in Ireland.  It is quite a large document and has been split into different sections to make it easier to access the information you require.  There is a self-audit tool that will help existing services through the assessment of their current premises which is very useful.  These guidelines will be useful for anyone who is thinking of developing/building a new centre or making changes to an existing service.  All the information can be found at:-

http://aim.gov.ie/universal-design-guidelines-for-elc-settings/