independent

Saturday 23 August 2014

Private operator sought for troubled Mallow creche

JOE LEOGUE

Published 20/06/2013 | 05:26

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A MEMBER of the board of Cork County VEC has confirmed that the educational body is looking to outsource the operation of its Mallow crèche to private operators.

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A MEMBER of the board of Cork County VEC has confirmed that the educational body is looking to outsource the operation of its Mallow crèche to private operators.

The confirmation comes following reports that the facility needs further funding to be brought up to standards.

This, after Cork Co VEC spent almost €1 million on the facility, with the Oireachtas Public Account Committee continuing to query loans arranged to fund the Kiddieland creche.

Meanwhile, Cllr Noel O'Connor (FG) also said this week that it was "not a right interpretation" to suggest that the VEC closed its crèche in Fermoy to redirect funds to sustain the Mallow facility.

"The CEO indicated two months ago that the VEC would move forward and seek private operators to run the [Mallow] crèche. It is important from the point of view of the VEC that the crèche can pay for itself," Cllr O'Connor said, adding that the Department of Education had expressed a wish for the VEC to move back to its core business of education and away from periphery businesses like crèches.

He said that the demand for crèches had dropped in recent years, as the recession has seen more parents out of work and free to mind their own children.

"There are a number of crèches run by companies and the vast majority are very reputable. They have an expertise in leasing property and running them in a proper manner.

"It's not a right interpretation to say that Fermoy was closed for Mallow. The Fermoy crèche was costing the VEC money. The Public Accounts Committee would be the first to ask why the VEC is spending €20-30,000 a year on something that isn't part of its core business.

"Some people are mixed up and think that because a staff member was moved from Fermoy to Mallow that the VEC was closing one for the other but that's not the case," he said.

Cllr O'Connor said that Fermoy's crèche was a victim of circumstances rather than any "sinister" implications, and that a number of private operators have already expressed an interest in assuming control of the Mallow crèche.

The Irish Examiner this week reported that the Mallow crèche was in violation of five regulations when HSE inspectors visited in February.

Amongst the complaints was that there were no outdoor area for children, not enough staff to satisfy adult to children ratios and that a number of staff did not have Garda vetting.

A memo from a subsequent visit in March confirmed that a number of the concerns had been addressed, including taking on extra staff, and that the crèche was looking for funding for an outdoor play area.

Corkman

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