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.
Arrangements for reburial or memorialisation of those children will then be arranged.
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone says every reasonable effort will be made to locate and recover the remains of all children buried in Tuam and her Department will lead the process.