The law in Ireland provides for the regulation and inspection of pre-school childcare services. Under the Child Care Act 1991, each Health Service Executive (HSE) area inIrelandis obliged to ensure the health, safety and welfare of pre-school children attending services in their area. Preschool children inIrelandare defined in law as ‘children under 6 years of age, who are not attending a national school or equivalent’.
The Preschool sector is governed by the Childcare (Pre-school Services) (No.2) Regulations 2006. Under the Preschool Regulations, services are inspected by the Pre-school Inspection team of the HSE to ensure compliance.
The aim of the Preschool Regulations is to improve childcare standards and to ensure the health, welfare and safety of preschool children as well as promoting their development while attending preschool services.
Regulation 5 of the Preschool Regulations (2006) is concerned with the Health, Welfare and development of the Child. A new guidance document and assessment tool has been developed by the HSE which lists criteria that the Pre-School Inspection team uses to evaluate practice in relation to Regulation 5.