Full childcare inspection team required

Following on from the Prime Time investigation into creches last week, figures released by the Health Services Executive also showed that up until last month there were no inspectors of creches and pre-schools at Health Offices in Leitrim this year.

Following on from the Prime Time investigation into creches last week, figures released by the Health Services Executive also showed that up until last month there were no inspectors of creches and pre-schools at Health Offices in Leitrim this year.

Speaking in the Seanad last Thursday, May 30 Drumshanbo Senator Paschal Mooney who is also Chairman of Leitrim County Childcare Committee highlighted “the lack of a public health nurse on the inspection team in County Leitrim since February 2012 has meant that only half of the inspection process has been carried out since then. There is an urgent requirement for the full inspection team to be put in place. In addition, the current EHO is covering County Sligo as well as Country Leitrim, thus making inspections less frequent.”

It had been reported more staff cannot be hired to step up inspections of crèches and other childcare facilities because of the Government moratorium on recruitment according to the HSE. The Association of Childhood Professionals has voiced its concern at the findings of the RTE Prime Time investigation into practices at crèches. The Association said the programme showed repeat instances of practices that are not acceptable for the childhood sector. In response the Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP) called on the Government to work together with childhood professionals to ensure high quality provision in the childhood sector and to ensure the implementation of national standards.

Senator Mooney said, “It is sad that it has taken such a programme to activate all the responses we have heard over the past 48 hours.”

He stated, “Leitrim is mentioned as one of the counties that has not been subjected to an inspection. The media coverage of child care facilities nationally focused on 15 child care services, which is less than 0.5% of the total nationally and did not reflect the position in all child care services.

“In County Leitrim, 206 staff work directly with children in child care facilities, 92% of whom are trained to FETAC level 5 standard, caring for children, or level 6, supervision in child care, while 89% have completed an occupational first aid course and 81% have completed the recommended HSE Children First child protection training. In addition, 59% of services are currently doing curriculum training with further courses for both preschool and after school, 75% of services are engaged in Síolta, the national quality framework for early childhood education, while 48% of services have completed an early years health promotion programme.”