ELC & SAC Regulations and Inspections

Early Years' Services Regulations 2016 and School Age Regulations 2018

The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years’ Services) Regulations 2016

It is the duty of every person carrying on a preschool service to take all reasonable measures to safeguard the Health, Safety and Welfare of the children attending the service and to comply with the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 and the Child Care Regulations (The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services)(Amendments) Regulations 2016.

Tusla Child and Family Agency has a statutory responsibility to assess levels of compliance with the Regulations. The Child and Family Agency will work with service providers in partnership to promote a culture of compliance with the Regulations.

For more information on the Early Years Inspectorate see:  

Overview of Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016

The revised Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 was launched on the 30th of June 2016, and has been introduced on a phased basis during 2016 and 2017.The regulations consist of nine key areas and seven schedules (which consist of application forms and additional information).

Below, we have highlighted some of the key features of the new regulations, based on the most common queries we have received from providers over the past few months.

Garda Vetting

  • All employees, unpaid staff and contractors (e.g. Gymboree, Stretch and Grow etc.) must be vetted before having access to children.
  • Police vetting (from the country or countries) is also required for those who have lived outside of Ireland for a consecutive 6 month period.
  • Services should ensure that a policy is in place on how to respond to vetting disclosures.
  • Vetting disclosures must be kept on file for 5 years from an employee’s start date


  • Each employee working directly with children must hold a minimum qualification of a major award in Early Childhood Care and Education at Level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework by the 31st of December 2016.
  • This does not apply to those who have signed a Grandfathering Declaration (on or before the 30thof June 2016), or those in possession of an exemption letter from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

Policies and Procedures

Schedule 5 of the Regulations outlines 21 specific policies, procedures and statements which must be included in a services Policies and Procedures document. These are

  • Statement of purpose and function
  • Healthy eating
  • Complaints
  • Outdoor play
  • Administration of medication
  • Overnight services (if applicable)
  • Infection control
  • Staff absences
  • Managing behaviour
  • Internet, photographic and recording devices use
  • Safe sleep
  • Recruitment
  • Fire safety
  • Risk management
  • Inclusion
  • Settling in
  • Outings (if applicable)
  • Staff training
  • Accidents and incidents
  • Supervision
  • Authorisation to collect children

Policies need to be reviewed at intervals of not more than one year, and records of each review need to be kept for 3 years after a review is carried out. 

For more information please see Tusla’s Quality and Regulatory Framework

Information and Records

The following records must be stored for 2 years from the date a child last attends a service:

  • Children’s attendance records
  • Records of administered medicines
  • Accident and injury reports
  • Staff rosters

For more information please see Tusla’s Quality and Regulatory Framework

The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years’ Services) (Registration of School Age Services) (Regulations 2018 School Age Services) Regulations

The registration of School Age Childcare services was introduced on the 2nd January 2019 with the publication of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018.  These regulations set out the minimum requirements that must be adhered to by the service provider in order to register as a School-Age Childcare service. From the 18th February 2019, all School Age Childcare service providers are required to register their school age service with Tusla by completing the online registration process in order to comply with the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018. 

In September 2020, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’ Gorman, T.D. launched the National Quality Guidelines for School-Age Childcare Services. The National Quality Guidelines describe the features of good quality practice in childcare services for school-age children, including both after-school and holiday childcare services. These National Quality Guidelines will assist, guide and inspire school-age childcare services to reach beyond the minimum standards set out in regulations. Click below link to view this publication:

National Quality Guidelines for School Age Childcare Services Guidelines, Components and Elements (September 2020)

Visit Tusla’s website for more information on School Age Registration. 

Early Years Education Focused Inspection (EYEI)

Early-Years Education-focused Inspections (EYEI) are carried out 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.