Creche inspections find a lack of garda vetting and dirty facilities
See interactive map below for reports on creches in your area
A LACK of garda vetting of staff and dirty facilities were uncovered by inspectors during a series of visits to creches and pre-schools.
The unacceptable conditions emerged in a series of inspection reports on pre-school facilities in the Limerick area. They were among the first 38 inspection reports on creches and pre-schools published in the wake of the recent outcry over poor policing and standards revealed in an RTE expose.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald originally promised to publish them from July 1, on the HSE website. But the delayed publication turned into another fiasco for the Minister yesterday after anxious parents could not access them on a little known Pobal website.
The parents needed to download special software and, depending on their success, they then faced an intricate form of navigation.
The HSE refused to respond to questions yesterday. A spokeswoman for the Department of Children said it was a matter for the HSE and she could not say if the problems would be corrected.
The reports showed 16 of the 38 facilities which were inspected over 2012 and 2013 failed to comply with all standards.
Inspectors were particularly critical of the failure to secure garda vetting and found that in Kilcoman Community Creche, Ardagh, Limerick, just nine of 12 staff had clearance.
The inspectors who visited the facility in March last year found the creche operated a "time out" policy, placing children in the Butterfly Room as a means of dealing with challenging behaviour.
The inspectors warned that time out should not ever be practised. They also reprimanded staff for their high and sharp tone of voice when the children were returning from outside play and needed to wash their hands.
They also ordered a deep clean after uncovering dust, cobwebs, dirty floors and counter tops. Correspondence from creche management said they would follow up on the action plan to address the issues.
Another report on Bruff Community Pre-School in Bruff, Co Limerick found at the time of a visiting a police clearance cert was unavailable for a staff member who previously lived in the UK. This was later obtained.
A separate inspection of Bruff Montessori school in Ballinlee, Bruff in March showed there was a lack of garda vetting on file for relief staff. The inspectors also criticised the tone of voice of the staff while children who were slow eating their meal were instructed to hurry up. In a response in May the managers said the garda clearance had been applied for.
Another inspection of Happy Faces creche in Askeaton in Limerick found fault with the range of play materials available.
Minister Fitzgerald reiterated her intention yesterday to introduce new guidance for inspectors from September. She said she expects that inspectors will be ready to impose a new system of registration from that date for all new providers.
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You can find more information at maps.pobal.ie - click on the link marked HSE Reports.