Child Ratio Explanatory Guide

The correct application of the adult/child ratio is as stated in the Explanatory Guide to the Regulations and the National Standards for Preschoool Services – Standard 5.

Adult/ Child ratios apply in respect of staff working directly with children. The service provider must ensure that the required adult/child ratios are met. These are:

Full-time and part-time services

0-1 year 1:3
1-2 years 1:5
2-3 years 1:6
3-6 years 1:8

Sessional services

0-1 year 1:3
1 – 2½ years 1:5
2½ – 6 years 1:10

Drop-In services

0-6 years 1:4

Additional staff and management resources are required to undertake management tasks, domestic tasks and other non-childcare work.

Additionally, the recommended ratios (above) are the minimum number of adults required to supervise, care for and work directly with the children in the service. It is the responsibility of each service owner/manager to ensure that sufficient staff are working directly with the children in the service at all times. The ages of the children, their stage of development, their particular needs and the carrying out of some activities may necessitate higher numbers of adults working directly with the children than is recommended above.

The number of adults required depends on the number of children attending, their ages and the type of service availed of.


Room Type of service Age of Children Number of Children Adult/child ratio Adults required
Baby Room Sessional 0 – 1 2 1:3 0.6
Full Day 1 – 2 1 1:5 0.2
Total for baby room 3 0.8 (1)
Pre-School Room Sessional 2 – 3 3 1:10 0.3
Full Day 1 – 2 3 1:5 0.6
2 – 3 6 1:6 1
3 – 4 4 1:8 0.5
Total for Pre-School Room 16 2.4 (3)
Montessori Room(all children at 1:11 ratio for duration of ECCE session) Sessional 3 – 6 3 1:11 1
Full Day 3 – 6 8
Total for Montessori Room 12
1 (1)
Total 31 4.5 (5)
 Total number of adults required is                    5

You can see from the above example that the ratio for each child is worked out as a percentage, i.e. if there is one baby aged 0 – 1 year in a room, the adult child ratio is 1 adult to 3 children, or to look at it as a percentage, that child requires .33 or 1/3 of an adult. Obviously, if there is only one child in a room then 1 adult is required, but if there is more than one child in the room then working out the percentage of an adult required by each child and then adding them up gives a true reflection of the minimum number of adults required in that room. In the example above, the total number of adults required in each room was calculated then rounded up to a whole number, (recorded in brackets).

A single ratio is not applied to an entire room except where a pre-school programme under the ECCE scheme is being delivered in the room. In this case the ratio of 1:11 is applied to each child in the room for the duration of the programme (3 hours), after which time the ratios return to those outlined in the Explanatory guide to the Regulations as detailed above. Children who are not in the ECCE scheme but who are at an age and developmental stage where they can fully engage in and benefit from the programme being delivered under the ECCE scheme are permitted to be part of the group taking part in the programme being delivered and are included in the 1:11 ratio.


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