Monday 27 January 2020

Another year about to begin - but no sign of extra checks


Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

REASSURANCE about safety standards in pre-schools have little value, as we know, unless the fear of a visit from the inspector is also there as a deterrent.

The latest figures showing some counties had as little as one inspector to scrutinise pre-schools last year while others had four will come as a shock to parents who believed surveillance of facilities where children can be left at harm had been tackled.

The disturbing RTE Prime Time Investigates programme, and its undercover exercise which was aired in June last year, led to a flood of government promises and pledges about more investment and tougher inspections which would improve quality and develop a safe haven for vulnerable children.

However, it recently emerged that existing inspectors are failing to meet even modest inspection targets this year because of an increase in complaints and the introduction of more comprehensive inspection report system.

In the meantime, parents who want to look up an inspection report on their child's pre-school have to navigate a complex online system outsourced to the Pobal agency - only to find the report may be several years out of date.

The new pre-school year starts next Monday for about 70,000 children in more than 4,400 facilities, but apart from funding for higher training for some staff there is still little sign of the dramatic changes promised.

But Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which took over the monitoring of the sector from the HSE, was still talking in future terms about implementing its business plan to have all services inspected every three years.

Irish Independent

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