Saturday 21 September 2019

More than half of pre-school centre complaints 'involved a serious injury to a child'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

More than half of complaints made about creches and other pre-school centres last year involved a serious injury to a child.

Only half of services for young children including pre-schools, play groups, nurseries, crèches and day-care were compliant regarding safeguarding health, safety and welfare, it emerged today.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, highlighted the issues in its Early Years Inspectorate Annual Report for 2017.

Some 276 complaints were investigated by the inspectorate and the most common area of complaint referred to the health, welfare, and development of a child.

There were 204 incidents notified to Tusla. Of this number, 64pc (131 cases) related to a serious injury to a pre-school child, which required immediate medical treatment.

Full-day care services were most likely to have been assessed as having non-compliant regulations, compared to childminders.

It carried out 2,033 inspections in 2017 "which resulted in positive improvements in key areas such as health, welfare and development, safety of services, registration, governance, and facilities."

An analysis of 500 randomly selected inspection reports with non-compliances in 2017 found that more than eight out of 10 services took actions, based on the findings of the early years inspector’s report to improve their services, prior to publication.

It was noted that improvements to a further 10pc of services would be verified at the next inspection.

Brian Lee, Director of Quality Assurance, Tusla, commented: "Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate promotes the highest possible standards of care for the youngest members of society in childcare service providers nationwide.

"It is essential that such standards are monitored and maintained so that infants, toddlers and children have optimum opportunities to learn and develop in high-quality professional early years settings."

Almost 4,500 early years services were registered nationally at the end of 2017, including 96 newly-approved services.

More than 90pc of services assessed under regulations relating to premises, staffing levels, and first aid were reported to be compliant.

But just  55pc of services were compliant regarding safeguarding health, safety and welfare of a child.

More than 47 full-time inspectors were in place at the end of December 2017.

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