Early Years is an overarching term that includes Pre-School Services. Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is responsible for inspecting pre-schools, playgroups, day nursery, crèches, day-care and similar services which cater for children aged 0-6 years.
A question and answer document was prepared based on questions submitted in 2012 from Early Years Service Providers, Childcare Organisations and County & City Childcare Committees. The aim of the document is to assist the sector to understand the regulatory requirement and assist in compliance. The National Standards for Preschool Services [DOHC 2010] are referenced throughout the document.
From September 2017 greater financial supports will be available to more families. There will be:
A new Universal Childcare Subsidy for children between the ages of 6 and 36months (or until they qualify for the free pre-school programme). Eligibility for this universal subsidy will not be means tested it will be available for families at all income levels.
Significant increases of up to 50% in childcare subvention rates provided under the CCS scheme for children from birth to 15 years.
A new eligibility “Band D” aimed in particular at families in possession of a GP visit for Children over the age of 6
Amendments to the existing eligibility criteria to help ensure that more families can benefit from more affordable childcare.
The Programmes Implementation Platform (PIP) is an online system which aims to streamline the administrative processes across the three national childcare funding programmes (ECCE, TEC and CCS). PIP is an integrated web-accessible system which has been designed to enhance the service experience of childcare service providers and the other stakeholders involved; City/County Childcare Committees, Pobal and DCYA.
Services can log-on, complete and view all their service details in one accessible place. PIP allows services to:
• Register children for each applicable funding programme
• Check whether places have been approved
• Appeal decisions
• Register transfers
• Submit Tax Clearance Certs (TCCs)
• View payment status
Pobal are continually updating the Frequently asked question section of the PIP website to assist you in your preparations and keep you informed. It is important to check in regularly to keep your service up to date on any new announcement.
Regular updates are available from Pobal on the PIP Homepage
Contact your local CCC or the PIP Online Support Team (Monday to Friday) at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01 – 5117222. Please have your DCYA Reference number/s ready.
Early-Years Education-focused Inspections (EYEIs)
Early-Years Education-focused Inspections are carried out by the Department of Education in early-years services participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme – a programme which provides a period of free early childhood care and education for children before they start school.
During these inspections, the quality of the nature, range and appropriateness of the early educational experiences for children participating in the ECCE Programme is evaluated. The main activity of an EYEI inspection is the observation, by the inspector, of the processes and practices relating to children’s learning in one or more learning rooms or areas in the early years setting.
At the end of each inspection, the early-years practitioners and the owners/managers (where available) are provided with feedback on the quality of educational provision in the setting. Subsequently, a written report will be forwarded to the pre-school inspected outlining the inspection findings and providing advice as to how educational provision in the setting can be developed further or improved.
The inspection report is published on the Department of Education website:
Pobal is contracted, on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), to conduct compliance visits with each participating childcare service who operates one or more of the National Childcare Programmes:
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme
Training and Education Childcare (TEC) Programme
Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme
CCS Plus Programme
Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (CCSR) Programme
Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (Transitional) (CCSR(T)) Programme
The purpose of the Compliance Visit is to verify that:
The children who have been registered with the DCYA under one of the childcare programmes are actually enrolled in and attending the service.
The service is implementing the correct Fee Payment Policy.
The Fee Payment Policy, Parent Letters (where applicable) and Calendars (where applicable) are displayed in the service and that a copy signed by the parent/guardian of each child is on file.
Records are maintained of optional extra charges, deposits, voluntary donations and/or fees for additional hours and are in accordance with the Fee Payment Policy of the service.
The service can show the qualifications of all staff working directly with children.
For the 2016/17 cycle, there are some revisions to the Compliance function, which may have implications for services, i.e.
Service outcomes are now categorised as one of four categories: Compliant; Special Advisory; Minor Non-Compliant; Major Non-Compliant. Services will still be required to sign-off on the compliance findings on the day of the visit, with formal categorisation notification forwarded in due course to the designated primary contact e-mail address on the PIP system.
Attendance records must now contain the following information: Child’s name; Date of attendance; Arrival time; Departure time.
CCS services must now update PIP with details of all “replacement” children as “CCS Not Funded” registrations.
If a service receives a major non-compliant outcome, they can be subject to a 2nd visit with a view to establishing if the issue identified has been rectified.
We advise services to maintain a compliance folder/file which can be made readily available to the visiting officer on arrival. This will ensure minimum disruption and speed up the compliance visit. We understand that some services file their records in other ways, but records must be available to enable the visiting officer to complete the compliance visit in a reasonable timescale. There should always be a staff member on site with access to the compliance folder/records in the event of an unannounced visit.
Please see the link to the service provider file checklist on the PIP homepage which will help you to compile the relevant information to meet compliance requirements. This checklist now contains a separate section for each of the Early Years programmes.
It’s important to note that the on-site compliance visit does not constitute an in-depth audit of accounting records, internal controls or corporate governance arrangements.
Please see link below to the Pobal Compliance Checklist available on the PIP Homepage. This checklist is intended to assist services in collating the relevant information to meet compliance requirements. Please note that this checklist now contains a separate section for each of the Early Years programmes. Please click here for a copy of the ECCE Programme Unannounced Compliance Visits 2016/17 SERVICE PROVIDER FILE CHECKLIST
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is delighted to announce that there will be an Early Years and a School Age Childcare Capital Programme in 2018. The purpose of this announcement is to alert childcare services about the upcoming programme and give time to prepare to apply for the grants.
This year’s programme call will consist of 5 Strands.
– Strand 1: Expansion of an existing facility or creation of a new facility (Early Years)
– Strand 2: Essential building maintenance (Early Years, community services only)
– Strand 3: Creation of new natural outdoor play area (Early Years)
– Strand 4: The expansion of an existing facility or creation of a new facility (School Age Childcare)
– Strand 5: Essential building maintenance & quality improvement (School Age Childcare, community services only)
Services can apply for all strands for which they are eligible.
Please note that in 2018, Early Years and School Age Childcare Capital schemes will run concurrently.
The timeline for the Early Years and School Age Capital 2018 programmes is as follows:
31st January 2018
Go live date for applications
12th February 2018
Closing date for applications
9th March 2018
Notification of Outcomes
Issued by end of May 2018
PLEASE NOTE APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED FOR 2018 CAPITAL GRANTS
If you are thinking of setting up a Childcare Service Carlow CCC can support you. Contact Carlow CCC on 059 9140244 and we will arrange Start Up Meeting for you with one of our Development Officers who will walk you through all your options.
The National Síolta Aistear Initiative (NSAI) has been developed to provide central support and coordination of Síolta and Aistear implementation across the early childhood sector. The initiative has two strands. The first will focus on Síolta, including the introduction of Síolta awareness raising workshops and the expansion of the Síolta Quality Assurance Programme (QAP). The second strand relates to Aistear, and will see the development of workshops and coaching to support practitioners to use Aistear in their setting. Carlow CCC under the NSAI offer the following support to Early years services in Carlow:
The Síolta Aistear Practice Guide Introductory Workshop
Síolta awareness raising workshops
Aistear Síolta Mentor support
Síolta Quality Awareness Programme (QAP)
Children First, National Guidance 2011, applies to all those working in a voluntary or paid capacity with children and families. It outlines the roles and responsibilities in relation to recognising, responding and reporting child protection and welfare concerns. Children First directs all organisations to appoint a Designated Liaison Person (DLP) and a Deputy DLP to act when the DLP is unavailable.
If you have concerns about a child, you are obliged under Children First, to report your concern, without delay, to the DLP who may report to Tusla Duty Social Worker or An Garda Síochána.
The National Vetting Bureau Act 2012-2016 makes it mandatory for persons working with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted. All early years services are required to comply with the provisions of the Act.
Carlow Childcare Committee has responsibility for the delivery of Tusla’s Always Children First Child Protection training in the Early Years sector in Carlow. This is the standard certified Child Protection training module for the Early Years sector and it is the training which the Tusla Early Years Inspectors will require when training becomes part of the inspection process. Áine Gahan, Siobhán Cummins and Michelle Durkin are accredited to deliver this training.
Carlow County Childcare Committee delivers a full (6 hour) training programme. Refresher Training (3.5 hours) is available to participants who have completed the full training post-2014.
For more information on any of our upcoming Child Protection Training, please see the Training section of our Website or call us on 059-9140244.
Important Information for Service Providers
On 2nd October 2017 Minister Katherine Zappone T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, announced the remaining provisions of the Children First Act, 2015 will commence on 11th December 2017.
The Act will impose statutory obligations on key professionals to report child protection concerns over a certain threshold to Tusla and on providers of relevant services to children, to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment of their services and develop a Child Safeguarding Statement.
Update November 2017
As you are aware the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, announced the full enactment of the Child Protection and Welfare legislation from 11th December 2017. This means that mandated reporting comes into force from that date. You will have until March 11th 2018 to have your child safeguarding statement in place. Carlow CCC will be prioritising training on these statements in the first months of 2018.
In the meantime the Early Years Child Protection Programme have produced a leaflet ‘The five steps to prepare for the Children First Act, 2015’ (see link below). We would recommend that as a first step you encourage all staff, owners, Boards and Committees to complete the e-learning course. Details are included on the leaflet.
This does not replace the training that we have been running for the last 4 years. Workshops on preparing a safeguarding statement will commence early in the new year along with full and refresher Always Children first training.
If you have any queries, on the above please do not hesitate to contact us.
Children First Guidance
Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children was first published in 1999 and has been revised and updated a number for times since, most recently in 2017. The key messages of the guidance have remained unchanged. The guidance seeks to assist people to recognise where a child is being abused or neglected, and to report reasonable concerns about abuse or neglect to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The guidance also assists organisations working with children with information about best practice in child safeguarding.
The most recent version of the Children First Guidance in 2017 also incorporates information on the Children First Act 2015 and in particular, sets out the specific child protection statutory obligations imposed on certain categories of persons and organisations under that Act.
The Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years programme, LINC, is a Level 6 Special Purpose Award (Higher Education), to enable early years educators to perform the role of Inclusion Coordinator.
The development of the programme is part of a government response to local, national and international demands for high-quality education and training leading towards graduate pathways in the combined field of early childhood care and education (ECCE). The programme seeks to address the need for continuing professional development (CPD) in relation to the inclusion of children with additional needs.
The application process for students interested in partaking in the LINC Programme for the 2018/2019 is now closed.
The Governance Code is a resource to assist community, voluntary and charity (CVC) organisations develop their overall capacity in terms of how they run their organisation. It is a voluntary code provided free to all boards/committees/ executives of not-for-profit groups to encourage them to check themselves against best practice in the management of their affairs.
The Code has been put together by people with extensive experience in the CVC sector and it takes account of the different types of organisations which exist in the diverse world of volunteering across the country.