Parent’s Guide to Childcare

Parents support

If you are looking for childcare, you probably have a good idea of what you want.  A place that is safe, happy, and loving, where children can learn and have fun. At the same time, the Early Years’ Service (EYS) must also meet your needs. The EYS should be convenient, affordable, and offer care when you need it. Finding an EYS that has the quality and convenience you want, at a reasonable cost can be a challenge.

Parent Supports & Resources

Parenting is rewarding and challenging. But, whatever age your child is and no matter how experienced you are, all parents will benefit from a little support and advice.

There’s lots of information out there. The Supporting Parents initiative is bringing together trusted, high quality resources in one place, to help you navigate your parenting journey.

The Early Years Unit at the Dept of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth  will continuously update this page as new resources become available locally and nationally.

Supporting Parents Resources


Five Steps to choosing good childcare

Step 1 – Get Organised

Finding quality child care is going to take a little homework. If possible, begin gathering basic information several months before you think you will need child care.

Step 2 – Conduct a Telephone Interview

Save time and energy by using the phone to narrow your search. It is a good idea to contact at least three different EYS and childminders. To get the best response, avoid calling at busy times such as arrival, departure, or lunch time.

Checklist for First Contact with Early Years Services

  • What ages are accepted?
  • Is there availability?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • Hours & Location
  • What are the hours for full- or part-time care?
  • Is the EYS close to home?
  • Is the EYS close to work?
  • Cost
  • When are fees due? How much?
  • Are there different fees for part-time or full-time care?
  • Are there different fees for children of different ages? (baby care may sometimes cost more)
  • Do fees include the provision of meals?
  • Do fees include formula or nappies?
  • Is there still a charge when a child is sick or on holidays?
  • Are there discounts for siblings?
  • Are there extra fees — supply fees, late collection fees?
  • Quality
  • How many children are cared for and what are their ages?
  • How many adults are there per child?
  • What type of education or experience do the early years educators have?
  • Is it ok to visit the EYS and when?
  • Is the EYS notified to the TUSLA?

Step 3 – Make a Visit

It is important to visit the EYS while children are there. You will need to consider accessibility, affordability and quality. A good quality EYS  has many long term benefits for children and their families and a quality, play-based curriculum will promote children’s development in all areas.

Visit at least three services. Be prepared to spend some time at least an hour or longer.

You should expect:

  1. a warm greeting
  2. a short introductions to both adults and children
  3. a brief tour
  4. an explanation of fees and policies
  5. an invitation to stay a while to see the daily routine and children playing

Most EYS will have information to hand, possibly in the form of a Parent’s Handbook. This should contain comprehensive and accurate information detailing opening hours, fees, facilities offered, policies and procedures etc. This should leave you with fewer questions to ask however, answers to the following questions are very important in order for you to make an informed decision.

Suggested questions to ask

  1. Please describe a typical day.
  2. Do you have a TV/DVD Policy?
  3. Tell me about your behaviour management policy?
  4. How do you handle nap times?
  5. How do you handle toilet training?
  6. What types of play or learning activities do you have?
  7. Do you have CPR and First Aid Training?
  8. What child proofing have you done to prevent accidents?
  9. What types of foods do you serve for meals and snacks?
  10. Are children ever transported in a vehicle?
  11. Do you use car seats?
  12. How do you handle emergencies?

Step 4 - Check References / Reviews

Don’t be shy about checking references with other parents. Selecting an EYS to share the care of your child with is one of the most important things you will ever do.

Step 5 – Make a decision

Remember that it is OK to be choosy. Review the information you have gathered and call back if you have questions that were not answered. Trust your gut instinct. If you are not comfortable with what you have found thus far, keep looking. If a child care arrangement you like is full, put your name on a waiting list. Even if you must use another program temporarily, you will have this as an option if things don’t work out. Prepare your children by talking positively about the new EYS and by letting them visit the place beforehand. Ask your new EYS if it would be OK for your child to bring a favourite toy, teddy bear, or blanket to help ease the transition.

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