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Early Years (Pre-School) Regulations and DCYA Childcare Programme Qualification Requirements

In May, Minister O’ Reilly, the former Minister of Children and Youth Affairs published the 2016 regulations. These revised regulations will come into effect from June 30th 2016. These new Regulations are one of a suite of measures currently being progressed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs with the aim of building the quality of provision across the diversity of early years services.

Amongst the provisions included in the new Regulations is a legal requirement that all staff working directly with children in early years services must hold a minimum level of qualification in a relevant area. This new legal requirement, which was to be introduced in September 2016, will now come into effect from 31st December 2016. This date will give any remaining unqualified staff the time necessary to complete training to meet this requirement.

From 31st December 2016, all staff working directly with children in your early years’ service MUST hold a major award in Early Childhood Care and Education at level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework, or the equivalent. Unqualified staff members will not be eligible to work directly with children in early years services from 31st December 2016. Therefore, it’s very important that any staff member who doesn’t hold the required minimum qualification should begin training as soon as possible – availing of the Learner Fund as appropriate – so they can be confident of meeting the minimum qualification requirement in time.

A list of Early Years DCYA Recognised Qualifications for the purposes of meeting the minimum qualification requirement in the pending Early Years Regulations and for meeting the contractual requirements for the DCYA Childcare Funding Programmes has been published. (

This list will enable employees working in the Early Years sector of Ireland to verify whether the qualifications they hold will be recognised.

This list also sets out the qualifications that will be recognised for the purposes of the DCYA Childcare Programmes, in particular, that of the qualification requirement of the room leader in the ECCE programme and for a service to receive the ECCE Higher Capitation rate.

Where a qualification is not published on the list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications but the holder considers it to be an appropriate Major Award at Level 5 on the NFQ of equivalent, the holder can apply to have their qualification assessed for approval. If it is approved for recognition the details of the qualification will be added to the list of DCYA Early Years Recognised Qualifications.


For more information and to download a copy of the New Regulations click on the link below