Tuesday 17 September 2019

Revealed: 11 children went 'missing' from crèches in last year

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Pre-school facilities reported 11 children going "missing" last year.

The shocking statistic was revealed by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in its annual report into the sector.

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

Tusla's Early Years Inspectorate Annual Report for 2017 said only slightly more than half of services for young children, including pre-schools, play groups, nurseries, crèches and day-care, were compliant regarding safeguarding health, safety and welfare.

Incidents reported to Tusla included a case of a child who fell from a high chair. In another case, a child headbutted another who had a seizure later in the day.

Another child choked on a piece of marshmallow and staff could not dislodge it.

A child tripped over a shoelace, hit his head on the leg of the table and ended up getting a stitch.

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, or 131 cases, related to a serious injury to a pre-school child that required immediate medical treatment.

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

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

An analysis of 500 randomly selected inspection reports with non-compliances in 2017 found more than eight out of 10 services took actions, based on the findings of the 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 at Tusla, said: "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.

Irish Independent

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