The site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, is to be fully excavated and forensically examined.
The government decided a full excavation was the best way forward at its cabinet meeting this morning.
A forensic examination will aim to identify the remains of all children buried at the site in Tuam.
Arrangements for reburial or memorialisation of those children will then be arranged.
The cost of the project is expected to be between 6 and 13 million euro.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone says she wrote to the Bons Secours nuns, who have offered to pay some of the costs of the excavation.
The Minister says she can’t give a timeline for when work will start as legislation needs to be passed to allow it to happen.
The Department also can’t say how many children’s remains may be located at the site until work begins.