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Saturday 24 February 2018

More than one-third of crèches feared to have staff with no vetting

Stock photo
Stock photo

Nicola Donnelly

The lack of Garda vetting of childcare workers is still causing a major concern following a series of inspections by the children's watchdog.

Child Care Facility Inspection reports, conducted by the child and family agency Tusla on nearly 2,400 crèches, playgroups, nurseries and daycare centres around the country, shows many centres have still failed to comply with basic rules on Garda vetting and references for staff in 2016.

Random checks of 100 reports, seen by the Irish Independent, showed that 34pc were non-compliant for Garda vetting.

One Dublin childcare centre had no Garda vetting available for two adults employees, while proof of ID was not available for three of the adult workers and CVs were not available for two adult employees.

At a Roscommon centre, proof of identity was not available for four adults employees, there was no references on file for two adult employees, and Garda vetting was not available for two adults workers.

Proof of identification and CVs were not available or validated for two adult employees at a Carlow pre-school although Garda vetting was complied with.

By law, all pre-school services are required to ensure appropriate vetting of all staff, students and volunteers who have access to a child.

Adults without Garda or police vetting and references must never be left alone with children and must be supervised at all times until the process of vetting and references are returned.

The centres that did not have Garda clearance available for staff members were directed to obtain the clearance, produce evidence that clearance had been obtained where such documents were not kept on file, or provide evidence of adequate references and identification. Monthly fire drills, which are required to be carried out and records to be kept, were found lacking in some care centres.

Inspectors also found there was a lack of maintenance records for the servicing of the fire-fighting equipment in some centres.

Punishment

The inspections found that the behaviour management policy at a number of centres around the country did not state that corporal punishment would never be inflicted on a pre-school child attending the service.

Each service must document that corporal punishment would never be used to correct a child's behaviour under the Child Protection Policy.

Several services were found not to have their accident, injury or incident records signed by parents/guardians to document that they have been informed of the accident, injury or incident.

Each Early Years Service inspected, if found to be non-compliant in any area of Governance, is given 10 working days to provide Tusla with a written response.

It must detail the action plan to address the non-compliances highlighted in their reports.

The revelations about Garda vetting follow the Irish Independent yesterday revealing that many childcare facilities around the country are still failing to meet proper standards - despite the horrors uncovered in RTÉ's 2013 'Breach of Trust' programme.

Official inspections of pre-school childcare facilities, conducted by Tusla, revealed risks posed to young children at many of the facilities.

Breaches include children's hands not being washed before meals, cord blinds not being secure - posing a potential strangulation risk - and cleaning solutions stored on window sills.

Irish Independent

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