Tips for Parents for selecting and dealing with pre-school care providers

Parents should expect that their child should be safe, well-cared for and happy in a childcare service.

The minimum requirements under which a service must operate are set out in the Child Care (Preschool Services) (No2) Regulations 2006

In addition the National Standards for Preschool Services support Providers in delivering a high quality service and support users in choosing the childcare service that is best suited to their needs.

Parents should expect the following from a service:

Quality of Service

  • The service is notified to the HSE. (except where exemptions apply)
  • The last inspection report is available.
  • An Information booklet /leaflet available detailing the type of service provided is available.
  • The service should feel welcoming to both you and your child.
  • The environment is caring, safe and friendly.

Management & Staffing

  • There is a named person in charge at all times.
  • All staff have been vetted e.g.   Garda Vetting, references, Police vetting (if lived abroad)
  • Staff have an appropriate level of experience, training and Qualifications.
  • An adequate number of adults are available to supervise and care for the children.
  • Children are supervised at all times
  • There are enough adults to provide individual attention to your child if they need it.
  • Staff should have a good understanding about child development and working with children.
  • Staff are observed to play with the children.
  • Staff turnover rates low i.e. how long have staff been working there.


  • The service must have a policy on child protection
  • Have staff attended training on Child Protection?
  • There is a policy on collecting children from the service.
  • There are appropriate fire safety and child safety measures in place.
  • Policies and Procedures should be available and implemented in the service. These are some of the Policies and Procedures you would expect to find in the service:
    • Policy on the administration of medications
    • Police on the safe conduct on outings.
    • Accident/incident policy/procedure
    • Complaints policy
    • Policy on encouraging and promoting positive behaviour
    • Illness policy
    • Policy on infectious diseases in the service
    • Safe Sleep for children
    • Health & Safety Policy
    • Nappy changing/Toileting
    • Confidentiality Policy

Quality of Care

  • Good interaction between staff and children are observed.
  • The service can cater for a child with special or additional needs.
  • The children are properly supervised but still allowed to experience activities that are challenging and exciting.
  • There are written programmes outlining the children’s activities.
  • The Programme of Care and Education should be flexible to meet the varying needs of the children.
  • A system is in place to discuss with you how to best deal with your child should he/she become ill, distressed or angry.
  • It is clear how challenging behaviour is managed.
  • Are children observed interacting well with other children.
  • A system is in place to replace staff who are ill or on holidays.
  • There is a respectful approach towards diversity, where each child’s individuality and sense of identity is valued.
  • Food is suitable, nutritious and a varied menu is available where the service provides food.
  • Special dietary needs can be catered for.
  • The arrangements in place for feeding your child are to your satisfaction.
  • Safe sleeping/resting arrangements are in place for children.
  • Staff familiar are familiar with the guidelines around safe sleep and prevention of sudden infant death.
  • Sibling interaction is facilitated and managed in the service.  Siblings/friends are facilitated to spend time together.


  • The premises should be well maintained, clean and hygienic, bright and well ventilated.
  • The premises must be safe and secure. A system is in place to prevent unauthorised access to the service and to prohibit a child leaving the premises unsupervised.
  • There must be adequate space to ensure comfort in rest and play.
  • A quiet area is available if your child wants to relax.
  • There is space for children to play inside and outside.
  • The outdoor play area is secure and hazard free.
  • All play areas are bright and cheerful.
  • Adequate facilities provided for the safe and hygienic preparation and storage of food.
  • The kitchen facilities are clean, hygienic with suitable wash-up, hand-washing and sterilising facilities.
  • The pre-school should not be too hot or too cold.


  • The equipment and furniture must be safe, appropriate and well maintained and clean.
  • Sufficient suitable toys play materials and resources are available to provide stimulating activities and play opportunities for the children.
  • The Equipment, toys, materials available must be appropriate for the ages of the children attending and their developmental needs.
  • Activities and resources should promote cultural awareness and equal opportunities.