HSE to miss deadline for new creche safety rules
KEY deadlines set by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald to ensure stronger safeguards for children in preschools and creches will not be met.
Ms Fitzgerald promised that inspection reports would be published online from July 1 – but parents who logged on to the Health Service Executive (HSE) website yesterday were unable to find any such documents.
And, in another blow, it has emerged that plans to phase in a system of registration for preschools from September will have to be put back until the end of the year.
The pledges were part of a catalogue of proposed reforms announced by the minister after she came under fire following a public outcry in the wake of RTE's 'Prime Time' expose showing children being mistreated in a number of creches.
However, the HSE was yesterday forced to row back on the pledge, saying it was not yet ready to publish inspection reports.
A spokeswoman said all creche inspection reports completed would be placed online from July 1 but they were subject to finalisation as well as
She said there would also have to be new guidance on the writing of reports and an "inspection system which reflects more fully registration and standards".
She said historical reports would also be made available online and "these will appear in the coming weeks".
It has been necessary to get clarification on insurance and legal issues as well as get a transfer of data from Pobal, which runs the free pre-school scheme.
There were also "operational requirements" to be addressed to support the publication of historical reports including the "acquisition of additional equipment such as scanners" and the "attachment of identifier numbers to historical files".
Mrs Fitzgerald recently told the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children that she intended to make all new operators register and meet standards before they could open from September and this would apply to existing facilities as they renewed their application to run the pre-school scheme.
She told the committee in mid-June: "I can confirm that a new registration system, that has been examined by the HSE and my department, will be introduced in September."
However, in a parliamentary reply, she revealed that this deadline has also been pushed back to the end of the year and would be phased in for existing facilities."Work is already under way in the Child and Family Services area of the HSE to introduce a registration system for pre-school services. "I understand this system will be in place for new services from the end of this year," she added.