New Inspections for Childcare Facilities to be Introduced
New inspections for childcare facilities are to be introduced later this year according to a report in the Sunday Business Post.
The four new inspections for childcare facilities are being introduced by the government following the May 2013 broadcast of “A Breach of Trust” – a documentary shown on RTE´s Prime Time which exposed the alleged abuse of young children in crèches and pre-school facilities in Dublin and Wicklow.
The government was prompted to act due to the controversy that was generated by the program and to address concerns of the European Commission regarding the qualification levels of staff in childcare facilities, who also commented on the varying compliance with minimum standards and regulations.
No fixed date has yet been announced for the new inspections for childcare facilities to be introduced, but the measures implemented by the government are understood to include:
- The Department of Education will hire extra inspectors to review the delivery of the early years curriculum for children.
- On behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, inspectors from Pobal will check the delivery of the free pre-school year.
- Inspectors from the child and family agency Tusla will inspect the standards of health and welfare in childcare facilities.
- Education specialists from the Better Start program will check on the delivery of play-based learning for young children.
The new inspections for childcare facilities has raised fears in the childcare sector that operators will be swamped by red tape. The Chief Executive of Early Childhood Ireland – Teresa Heeney – told the Sunday Business Post that the level of bureaucracy was overwhelming.
Early Childhood Ireland represents the interests of 3,500 childcare facilities in Ireland, and Ms Heeney was reported as saying: “What operators cannot tolerate is that these people want it in blue, these people want it in red, and these people want it in white. They all have to agree that green will do for all of them.”
In response to criticism over the new inspections for childcare facilities, children´s minister James Reilly said that a robust inspection service was critical. The minister told the Sunday Business Post that inspectors from the four different agencies would share an IT system so that each would all have access to the same data on childcare facilities.
As a result of Prime Time´s documentary, there are fifty cases on their way to the High Court. All concern alleged abuse of children or breach of contract, and all made against the Links Crèche in Abingdon, Dublin – one of the three childcare facilities featured in the documentary. According to the solicitor heading the legal action – Kathrin Coleman – the cases are at an advanced stage of proceedings.