Alarming lack of garda checks remains a serious problem
Staff working in childcare businesses will have to be garda-vetted every three years under proposals being considered by Tusla.
The agency is examining the move as a lack of garda checks remains one of the most common and prevalent issues seen by the agency’s inspectors.
Reports have shown that in some regions of the country, over 50pc of non-compliances relate specifically to issues with garda vetting documentation.
These reports, released by Tusla, highlight that this issue is countrywide and not specifically tied to one particular region.
Under 2006 childcare legislation, all staff, students and volunteers in childcare providers must undergo garda vetting, but there is no rule relating to how often a staff member should be garda vetted.
Tulsa’s Brian Lee has said that this is set to change in the coming year.
“It probably looks like we will go for a three-year review time,” said Mr Lee, adding that the agency was not interested in hearing excuses about delays in vetting a staff member.
“We just inspect services to ensure all staff have garda vetting. Delays in relation to how long it takes are not something we take into account,” he said.
“It is just a non-compliance. They are meant to have garda vetting in the staff file.”
The Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP) said that historically there had been a problem with securing vetting from gardaí, with the process taking up to 16 weeks at one point.
However, that improved after the opening of the Garda Central Vetting Unit, which has processed 192,982 applications so far this year.
The system in Ireland currently stipulates that vetting is applied for by organisations, as opposed to individuals.
This means that a childcare worker employed by two different organisations would require separate garda vetting for each place of employment.
The ACP favours a card system similar to the one currently operating in Australia.
“Under that system, if I have been vetted I have a card that says so,” said ACP chairperson Marian Quinn.
“If I move from one place to another, I can bring that with me and then every two years I would need to get that renewed, whereas here that doesn’t happen.”