Consider your Early Learning and Care service requirements, the type of the service you choose will depend upon:
Decide on the type of Early Learning and Care service you require.
How much childcare do you require? Knowing your childcare needs will help you to narrow down your options. You may choose a full time Early Learning and Care service (5 hours and more each day) or part time day care. (3.5 hours up to 5 hours), sessional care (up to 3.5 hours) or perhaps home-based childminding service.
Further details on the types of services are available in Types of Childcare below.
Childcare Search: Use the Childcare Directory search tool on this website to search for childcare options. Our database allows you to narrow down your choices according to the service location-area code.
You can find this list of Early Learning and Care, School Age Childcare and Childminders on the Childcare Directory located on the homepage, in the Parents section or you can access it directly by clicking here: Search for Childcare
If you cannot find the service you are looking for please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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. Guidance on contacting a service and arranging a visit are detailed below.
A sessional service refers to a programme for children for up to 3.5 hours per session. Services may offer a morning and/or an afternoon session.
A part-time day care service refers to a programme for children over 3.5 hours and less than 5 hours per day.
A full day service refers to programme for children for more than 5 hours per day. A full day service may include sessional, part-time services and School-Age Childcare Services.
A School-Age Childcare service refers to any service for school going children aged 4-15 years, which operates during one or more of the following periods:
School age childcare services may use a range of terms to describe the type of service being offered: breakfast clubs, after school clubs, out of school programmes summer camps, etc.
Childminding refers to paid, non-relative care of children aged from birth to 14 (including both early learning and care and school-age childcare) in which children are cared for within the childminder’s family setting. Childminding is sometimes described as ‘home-based’ care.
Researching various services allows you to make informed decisions when choosing an Early Learning and Care service.
School-Age Childcare services are regulated by the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) (Registration of School Age Services) Regulations 2018.
Barnardos have published a booklet Quality School Age Care-What to look for in a Service to Care for your Child Outside of School which offers guidance to parents/carers on choosing a quality service for their child during the time when they are not available and their child is not in school.
The Early Learning and Care sector is regulated under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years’ Services) Regulations 2016. Tusla Child and Family Agency has statutory responsibility to support compliance and quality standards through regular inspection.
For more information on the Regulations and Early Years Inspections see the Regulations section of the website here
To view Tusla registered service’s inspection reports visit: Tusla’s website
The National Child Safeguarding Programme; Early Learning and Care have developed a leaflet for parents. The purpose of the leaflet is to outline what parents can expect in relation to Child Safeguarding from Early Learning and Care services, it is available in English and Irish and can be downloaded below:
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 an early learning and care service, you can ask a number of questions initially. These questions may help you to shortlist providers and make informed decisions in choosing an appropriate care for your child.
Such questions may include:
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 provider directly for guidance on visiting the service.
Even with Covid-19 restrictions in place, it is important that you get the opportunity to meet the manager and staff and explore the setting’s environments, and 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 the appropriate fit for you and your family.
Some points to consider: