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Affordable Childcare

From September 2017, your child may qualify for childcare supports. If you are a parent with a child in registered childcare and would like to find out more, please click below for further information.


More information for Childcare Providers Providers -

More information for parents -


AIM -Access and Inclusion

The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.  Its goal is to empower service providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education.  (


AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the service provider. For many children, the universal supports offered under the model will be sufficient.  For others, one particular discrete support may be required to enable participation in pre-school, such as access to a piece of specialised equipment.  For a small number, a suite of different services and supports may be necessary.  In other words, the model is designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual child in the context of their pre-school setting.  It will offer tailored, practical supports based on need and will not require a formal diagnosis of disability.

Additional supports - AIM Inclusive Play 

AIM Inclusive Play is the latest addition to the suite of supports provided under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM).
AIM Inclusive Play is a set of sensory and educational play resources to support inclusive practice within pre-school settings. This website supports the appropriate and effective use of these resources. 

More information on website here.





The  Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years programme, LINC, is a Level 6 Special Purpose Award (Higher Education), to enable early years educators to perform the role of Inclusion Coordinator. The development of the programme is part of a government response to local, national and international demands for high quality education and training leading towards graduate pathways in the combined field of early childhood care and education (ECCE). The programme seeks to address the need for continuing professional development (CPD) in relation to the inclusion of children with additional needs.



  • To equip participants with the knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies to support the participation of children with additional needs in early years settings.

  • To prepare participants to adopt a leadership role within early years settings that enables them to support and supervise other staff in the setting to plan for, implement and review inclusive practice.

  • To support participants to develop their professional knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies in relation to the inter-related areas, which comprise the programme modules, with a particular focus on embedding inclusive practice in Aistear – The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and Síolta, the National Quality Framework. 

  • To provide on-going support in ICT and study skills for participants throughout their time on the programme.

More information on the website


Better Start    

Better Start is an initiative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, in collaboration with the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills and Pobal to establish a single, cohesive approach to quality across the Early Childhood Care and Education sector in Ireland.  The broader aim of Better Start is to bring co-ordination, cohesion and consistency to the provision of state funded quality supports and to work in alignment with statutory systems, i.e. regulation and inspection, in the Early Childhood Care and Education sector.

More information


The Better Start Quality Development Service

The Better Start Quality Development Service is an additional resource to support and drive quality improvement. It provides a highly skilled and experienced Early Years Specialist team to work directly in a mentoring capacity with Early Years services, complementing and adding to other quality resources such as training, CPD programmes, networking, cluster type support groups and individual or team based development work.

The Quality Development Service will operate on a national, rather than regional or county basis. Requests for the service can be made through your local CCC and will be processed centrally.  Early Years Specialists will be allocated to ECEC services on the basis of availability, skills and experience, as far as possible matching the service profile.

The new criteria (number 3 below), has been added for sessional services (Nov 2016).

For details of Better Start Quality Development Service revised criteria please click here

Better Start Criteria November 2016



The Department of Children and Youth Affairs focuses on harmonising policy issues that affect children in areas such as early childhood care and education, youth justice, child welfare and protection, children and young people's participation, research on children and young people, youth work and cross-cutting initiatives for children.



The HSE is responsible for inspecting pre-schools, play groups, nurserys, crèches, day-care and similar services which cater for children aged 0-6, under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006. In this section of the website and in documentation, the terms pre-school services and early years services are used interchangeably.

Choose from the options below:

Creche and Early Years Inspection Reports:

Reports from inspections are now beginning to be published on

Pre-school inspection services:

Choosing a pre-school, contacting pre-school inspectors, types of pre-school services, lists of pre-school services nationwide and the Child care regulations.


Standard Operating Procedures for Early Years Services:

See below for these and other important document and publications to support Early Years Personnel in undertaking their work. These Standard Operating Procedures are designed to assist Early Years Personnel in undertaking their work when engaging with Early Years Service Providers and their employees. These Standard Operating Procedures include:

  1. Compendium of Standard Operating Procedures for Early Years Services for the Early Years Services Inspectorate

  2. Early Years Garda Vetting, Employee References and Qualifications SOP

  3. Early Years Fixing of Numbers SOP

  4. Early Years Annual Fee SOP

  5. Early Years Notification of a Preschool Service, Change in Circumstances and Cessation of Service SOP

  6. Early Years Advisory SOP

  7. Early Years Inspection of Services SOP

  8. Early Years Complaints SOP


More information by click on the HSE image

The Child and Family Agency was established on the 1st January 2014 and is now the dedicated State agency responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children. It represents the most comprehensive reform of child protection, early intervention and family support services ever undertaken in Ireland. It is an ambitious move which brings together over 4,000 staff and an operational budget of over €750m..The Children & Family Services functions of the HSE are now part of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla. Tusla was established by law on 1 January 2014.


Please click here to access the new Child and Family Agency website,




This introduction to the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide explains the purpose of, and audience for the Guide and outlines the meaning of the word ‘curriculum’ as used in Aistear, in Síolta and in the Guide. It also gives an overview of the structure of the Practice Guide and describes the aspects of Aistear and Síolta that it focuses on.   


Purpose and audience

The purpose of the Practice Guide is to support practitioners in using Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009a) and Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (2006) together to develop the quality of their curriculum and in doing so, to better support children’s learning and development. The Practice Guide is based on the understanding that settings are compliant with, or are working to become compliant with The Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No. 2) Regulations (Department of Health and Children (DHC), 2006). 

More information by visiting




Community Development Support


Meitheal is a community development support and training organisation. Our mission is to create change through working for equality and social justice.
The way we work is guided by the values of community development, equality and feminism. Meitheal has worked in the community and voluntary sector over the last fifteen years. In that time we have worked with hundreds of community and voluntary organisations, such as:

  • Disability organisations

  • Lesbian and Gay organisations

  • Local community groups, organisations and networks

  • Minority ethnic and migrant community organisations

  • Traveller organisations

  • Voluntary management committees

  • Women's organisations


Childminders offer home-based childcare in the Childminder’s own home for preschool and school going children. It is personal, unique, adaptable and family friendly. Childminders play a vital role in supporting families: an estimated 76,000 children are cared for by professional Childminders in Ireland according to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2016.

Here you will find the best, most relevant and updated information on how to set up and run your Childminding Service. We guide you through what is involved in becoming a Childminder as well as registration with Tusla or notification to your local Childcare Committee.

We provide information on Childcare Tax Relief for Childminders and how to get Garda Vetted as a Childminder.

We also explain the benefits of joining Childminding Ireland. Find out about the Free Preschool Scheme as well as the national early years’ frameworks, Aistear & Síolta.

You will find useful links to all the relevant legislation and lots of useful resources.