Regulation of school age childcare services
School age childcare
School age childcare services provide childcare outside of school hours to children in school and under the age of 15. It includes early years services, day nursery, crèche and day-care.
Childcare services for school age children must:
- Register with the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) before providing any services
- Comply with the standards of health, safety and welfare set out in the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018 (pdf)
Tusla – the Child and Family agency - is responsible for the inspection and registration of all childcare services including pre-school and school age children.
Parents can check the register of school age childcare services.
Registration of school age childcare services
School age childcare providers must be registered with Tusla. If a provider offers services for school-age and pre-school children, they must be registered to provide each service.
Any new service must register with Tusla 3 months before opening the school age service. You can check the register of school age childcare services (pdf).
Who must register with Tusla and comply with the Regulations?
Childcare providers covered by the Regulations who must register are:
- Centre-based childcare services
- Childminding services
Who does not have to register with Tusla?
Childcare providers exempt from the Regulations include:
- A relative of the child or the spouse of such a relative (that is, the brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent or step-parent of the child)
- A childminder caring for not more than 6 children (other than their own) at the same time. Not more than 3 of the children can be of pre-school age
- Childcare services in drop-in centres. These are centres that provide occasional care to children
- Temporary school-age childcare services
All services must re-register with Tusla every 3 years, during that time they will be inspected by Tusla.
From 31 January 2023, all childcare services must display a certificate of registration in a prominent position in their childcare setting.
School Age Childcare Regulations and inspections
The Regulations for childcare providers cover a number of areas.
Health, welfare and development of the child
Childcare providers must safeguard the health, safety and welfare of children attending their service. The Regulations (pdf) set down the standards that must be in place before childcare services can be provided to children. Some of the areas covered by the Regulations include:
Management and staffing
Childcare services must ensure that children are appropriately supervised at all times.
All staff, students and volunteers who have access to a child must be Garda vetted. Childminders (other than those exempted from registration – see above) must also be Garda vetted
All registered childcare services must have another person available at all times to assist in case of emergency.
Ratios of early years children allowed in centre-based services
Centre-based services must ensure there is a minimum ratio of 1 adult to 12 school age children at all times.
Ratios of early years children allowed in childminding services
There is a limit on the maximum number of children who can attend a childminding service at the same time.
Childminding services caring for both pre-school and school age children, must adhere to strict ratios that apply to children who are in care at the same time.
|Number of children that may be cared for in a childminding service|
|Number of pre-school children being cared for||Maximum number of school age children|
The provider should have written policies and procedures to manage challenging behaviour and bullying.
Childcare services (including childminders) must ensure their premises meet certain standards. Children must have access to outdoor space on a daily basis, either on the premises or an alternative outdoor space.
Information for parents
You should be given information about the service including details of the person in charge and other staff, the adult/child ratios, the age range of the children, the type of care, facilities, opening hours and fees.
Registered providers must have policies on the administration of medication, infection control, fire safety and dropping off and collection of children.
Childcare providers must have adequate insurance cover in place for children in their care.
Registered services must have a complaints policy for recording and dealing with complaints about the service. Parents must be made aware of the policy.
If you need further information about the standards and regulation of childcare services for children (pdf) in your area, you should contact the early years inspector.
If you need information on local childcare services and other issues relating to the care of young children you should contact your local City/County Childcare Committee (CCC)
The register of school age childcare service (pdf) gives you information including the name of the provider, the age profile of the children and number of children the service can accommodate.
School age service providers can find more information about registering and re-registering a school age service.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) has also published an action plan on school age childcare.