Creche inspections down due to lack of inspectors
THE number of inspections investigating standards of care in creches and pre-schools has fallen as staff struggle with their duties.
It has emerged that a year after the damning television undercover expose of poor standards in a number of creches, some areas are still without enough inspectors.
The revelations have emerged in a series of questions to new Children's Minister James Reilly who admitted the rate of inspections has reduced for a number of reasons.
But the reduction is mainly due to the management of complaints and the introduction of more comprehensive written inspection reports.
"The target for 2014 is that, by end year, 60pc of notified childcare centres – approximately 2,780 – will have received a first inspection or an annual inspection. So far in 2014, the latest data available is that 441 inspections were conducted up to the end of March," he said.
Blackspots, where there are still not enough inspectors, remain in parts of Dublin, according to officials.
"The Child and Family Agency has completed a recruitment campaign and additional inspectors have been appointed and commenced duty in May 2014," Dr Reilly said.
"More inspectors are due to start in August and September. The new inspectors first undertake robust induction training so the impact of their recruitment with regards to numbers of inspections conducted will not take effect immediately. A further recruitment campaign will be undertaken to address the limited number of early years inspectors in the Dublin area."
He said improving the ability of the inspection team to respond to findings of non-compliance is being addressed. He said: "A number of amendments were made to the Child Care Act 1991 in the Child and Family Agency Act 2013. Regulations giving effect to the legislative changes are expected to be published by the end of August."