Care and safety top pre-school complaints
Published 05/09/2016 | 02:30
Four complaints a week were lodged about the country's pre-schools in the first half of the year.
The majority of the 94 complaints relate to care and safety concerns, according to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency which has responsibility for registration and inspection of early-years services.
The pre-school sector, which came under the spotlight in recent years after a television exposé showing poor practice, is now subject to new regulations since June, Tusla chief Fred McBride said.
A new pre-school cannot open before a Tusla inspection of services to ensure they it is fit for purpose and can provide the required level of service and care for children.
"We have recruited additional inspectors. In 2015, the inspectorate moved from local to national governance, providing Tusla with a clear picture of the levels of activity and also identified areas where caseloads were excessive," he added.
It currently has 43 early-years inspectors, with a further three positions currently in the final stages of recruitment. Additionally, there are two national inspectors who support the early-years inspectors.
The stricter regulations mean the work has substantially expanded and additional inspectors will be needed.
Tusla expects to recruit an additional eight inspectors in 2016 and further inspectors in the future.
There are currently 4,639 services registered with Tusla and the requirement on Tusla to undertake a registration inspection every three years. However, some areas receive inspections approximately every 18 to 24 months.
Inspections are prioritised based on complaints received and providers who do not engage with the process at the required standard.