The Government is failing to live up to its commitment to fundamentally reform childcare standards according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy.
Deputy Troy made the comments following a judgement by Dublin District Court against a crèche which pleaded guilty to eight charges of failing to take reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of children attending the service.
Deputy Troy pointed out that the same regulations are in place now as were in operation in 2013, and the light touch penalty on a crèche with such serious charges will do little to restore the confidence of parents.
“It is now over three years since RTÉ exposed major inconsistencies with the provision of childcare in crèches. This has been reiterated by the Irish Independent today where an analysis of inspection reports indicates huge variations in standards around the country” said Deputy Troy.
“Of the facilities that were inspected in recent months, a significant number failed to meet requirements on Garda vetting. Many also failed to have adequate staff levels for the number of children being cared for. The absence of progress by the Government combined with a variety of excuses being presented by Túsla does not mask their collective ineffectiveness at carrying out promised reform.
“Yesterday’s court judgement is the clearest sign yet that a more robust registration and inspection scheme is needed. The Government published the Children Act last year which was meant to clear the way for such reforms. Despite this, new childcare facilities are opening every day and are still being registered by Túsla under the old process. This means that anybody can continue to open a crèche which is ill-equipped to provide adequate childcare.
“Why is Minister Reilly not treating this matter as a top priority? There is no sense of urgency from him regarding the need for an enhanced registration and inspection process for crèches. Passing legislation through the Dáil is of no use if the Minister responsible does not follow through and actually implement its provisions.
“What will have to happen before Minister Reilly starts to take action? Parents are already struggling to pay the excessive costs associated with childcare. The least they deserve is to have comfort knowing their children are receiving professional care when attending a crèche. This can only be achieved by having a robust registration and inspection regime in place.”