Step 1: Consider your Early Learning and Care or School-Age Childcare service requirements. The type of the service you choose will depend upon:
- your child's needs and your family needs
- the type of service you prefer
- the options available in your community
Step 2: Contact your local City/County Childcare Committee who will provide you with
of services within your area.
Step 3: How much childcare do you require? Knowing your childcare needs will help you to narrow down your options. See page 4 for the different types of care options.
Step 4: There are various financial supports available for parents and families through the current Childcare Funding programmes. Find out which financial support you are eligible for through contacting your local Childcare Committee.
Step 5: Once you have created a shortlist of Early Learning and Care services in your area that may meet your childcare needs, you can contact them directly to enquire further and arrange an appointment to visit the service.*
Contacting a Service Provider
Making an informed decision
Researching various services allows you to make informed decisions when choosing an Early Learning and Childcare service. The Early Learning and Care sector is regulated under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years' Services) Regulations 2016. School-Age Childcare services are regulated by the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School-Age Services) Regulations 2018. A list of registered services is available from Tusla, Child and Family Agency.
Once you have completed research regarding services, the next task is to shortlist potential services. A brief email or phone interview asking your key questions will guide you to the next stage of choosing a suitable service. When you contact a service provider, you can ask a number of questions initially. These questions may help you to shortlist providers and make informed decisions in choosing appropriate care for your child.
Such questions may include:
- Is the service registered with Tusla?
- What are the opening hours of the service?
- What age range of children does the service accommodate?
- Are there spaces currently available or is there a waiting list in operation?
- What type of childcare is provided, e.g. full day care, part-time, sessional, etc.?
- If your child has specific needs, is the service resourced to meet those needs?
After an initial phone or email interview, it is recommended that you visit the service.*
*You will need to consider the health guidance on non-essential visitors to a service during COVID-19, please contact your service providers directly for guidance on visiting the service.
Even with COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is important that you meet the manager and staff and have opportunity to discuss the policies and procedures that are in place. This is your opportunity to ask about topics such as the service's approach to behaviour management, the procedures in place for emergencies, is there a healthy eating policy and how the service encourages your child's interests and promotes independence. Then as a parent/ guardian, you can decide if the service compliments your approach to parenting and is an appropriate fit for you and your family.
- Narrow your choices down to a couple of services that best suit your child and your family needs.
- Consider first impressions of the service. Would you be happy to leave your child in that service?
- Consider external information available to you: Tusla's Early Years' and the Department of Education and Skills (ECCE services only) inspection reports are available online.
- Has anyone been able to recommend the service to you?
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. A service provider should be happy to inform parents on their service, their approach to education and care