Thursday, 5 December 2019
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Early Years Sector
352. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position in relation to the processing of the approximately 2,500 applications already received for the re-registration of early years services; when service providers will receive feedback on their application in view of the fact they have been unable to get in contact with her Department to obtain feedback; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50941/19]
The operation and maintenance of the Register of Early Years Services is a matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which is the independent statutory regulator. As my Department does not have a role in relation to the processing of registration applications or maintenance of the register, it does not provide feedback to individual service providers on the status of their application.
However, in relation to the processing of applications more generally, I am informed by Tusla that the total number of early years services that are due to re-register by 31 December 2019 is 4,117. As of 3 December, 2,232 applications had been submitted to Tusla's Early Years Inspectorate and a further 994 services had started the application process but had not yet submitted via the online portal for assessment. Submitted applications are currently being processed in batches through a series of specially convened registration panels.
All registered providers receive an automated acknowledgement from the Inspectorate on submission of their application via the online portal, and are advised directly by the Early Years Registration Office, following initial review, if they need to submit any outstanding documents. All registered providers are then advised when their applications are complete and receive a formal letter or registration from Tusla once their application has been approved by a registration panel.
In relation to applications not yet received, Tusla continues to highlight to registered providers the need to ensure that their applications are submitted in a timely manner in order to meet the statutory deadline for re-registration. Tusla has engaged with its Early Years Consultative and Regulatory Support Forum, which is composed of sectoral stakeholders and support organisations, to support services in the process for re-registration, where they have yet to submit an application.
In recognition of the difficulties many providers were experiencing in completing re-registration, Tusla decided to revise the time-line for submission of supporting documentation for re-registration. Under the revised arrangements, while providers must apply to Tusla by 12th December, they have until 30th June 2020 to provide someof the supporting documentation required, including on fire safety and planning requirements.
On 27th November, my Department issued a letter informing providers that Tusla has revised the time-line for submission of supporting documentation for re-registration. That letter provided clear guidanceon what documentation is required by the 12th December deadline and what can be submitted up until 30th June.
My Department has been working closely with Tusla to ensure adequate staffing is in place to process applications on time, and to ensure effective communications with providers. In addition, my Department has supported City and County Childcare Committees to give advice and assistance to providers that need help with re-registration.