A decision to defer a deadline for creches to submit a fire safety assessment has been welcomed, with suggestions it will 'take some pressure' off childcare providers in the run-up to Christmas.
The decision to delay the process came amid concerns smaller childcare facilities could close in the new year.
The Irish Times reports that Tusla had written to operators requesting that mandatory documentation be submitted by December 12th if they are to continue operating in 2020.
However, the newspaper also reports that a requirement for creches to carry out a fire safety assessment in order to get a fire cert will now be deferred until the end of June of next year.
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said Tusla has been in 'ongoing contact' with childcare providers to inform them of the changing rules and the need for re-registration.
However, she said both the child and family agency and her own department had heard that some needed more time - hence the decision to defer the deadline.
Speaking to Newstalk, Minister Zappone said: "If they do need some support from the Department - in terms of renovations or whatever - to ensure the compliance with safety... as I said before, the Department has offered grants in the past to support that, and we will continue to do so.
"I want to be very, very clear: we support small providers, [but] my understanding is that they would have been aware of these requirements and that they would need to re-register by a certain period - and that does include fire safety regulations.
"Having said that, we have decided to extend so they have more time in order to comply with those."
'Some things can't be changed that quickly'
Joan O’Sullivan, chairperson of the Association of Childcare Professionals, said that fees and potential remedial work required under the new regulations could mean significant costs for creche operators.
She told Pat Kenny: "Childcare services can't do any [remedial] work during the working week - it all has to be done at the weekends, so the contracts are going to be more expensive.
"The environment is changing very, very quickly: I can understand that it needs to change, but some things just can't be changed that quickly."
She added: "Fire certification for anybody who doesn't have it... I've heard of people who are spending upwards of €40,000."
Meanwhile, Labour's child and youth affairs spokesperson Seán Sherlock welcomed the news of an extension to the assessment deadline.
He said: "Many childcare providers have been extremely concerned that they wouldn’t be able to re-open in January due to issues getting all the documentation required through to Tusla by the December deadline.
"This is already a really busy time of year for early year’s providers and staff in the run up to Christmas, and any possible delays to reopening centres in the New Year would have had a huge impact on workers, parents and children.
Deputy Sherlock added that the delay "should take some of the pressure off providers who were finding it difficult to meet the deadline", allowing them to re-open after the Christmas break.