Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children Robert Troy TD has said the Government is continuing to put the welfare of children at risk by not putting in place a proper inspection regime for pre-schools across the country.
Deputy Troy made the comments after the Child and Family Agency expressed alarm at inadequate supports provided to facilitate pre-school inspections.
“The latest revelations from the Child and Family Agency highlight that the inspection system for pre-schools remains grossly inadequate “said Deputy Troy.
“Concerns have been raised about the lack of suitable IT systems to support the inspection system and an over-reliance on paper based resources. This is leading to a situation whereby inspectors and staff cannot flag problematic incidents as they arise.
“The previous Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald gave clear assurances last year that the inspection system would be overhauled to ensure it is fit for purpose. This clearly has not happened.
“RTÉ uncovered child care malpractice in crèches as part of a Prime Time investigation in 2013. We are nearly two years on and the long promised revised standards and new regulations have not been forthcoming. The significant gaps in monitoring, regulation and childcare practice standards raised by the investigation are still to be addressed.
“There are huge variations across the country with the operation of the inspection system and this has worrying implications for child welfare. The lack of systematic inspections and quality reviews is putting children in crèches and pre-schools at risk.
“It simply is not good enough that the inspection system remains unfit for purpose and that every identified failing in the childcare sector is supposed to be remedied by a new early years strategy that was first promised in 2012.
“The Government needs to move quickly to make the inspection system more robust and improved inspection regimes need to be embedded in the long promised early year’s strategy accompanied by ring-fenced funding for its practical implementation. It is not good enough that child welfare is being put at risk due to a poorly coordinated and resourced inspection system” said Deputy Troy.