Childcare standards lottery revealed
Where you live can have a direct bearing on the standard of your local crèche, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Pre-school centres in the west of the country are reaching higher standards than in Dublin and Leinster due to better rates of inspection by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
An analysis of inspection reports indicates big variations in standards around the country, with crèches in some counties enjoying a much cleaner bill of health than others.
It shows the west has generally had a higher level of compliance with childcare regulations than elsewhere.
Limerick in particular emerged as one of the better places in the country for childcare, with almost three-quarters of all crèches inspected by Tusla this year found to be fully compliant.
The revelation comes as concerns persist over standards in the sector.
Yesterday, the Links Crèche and Montessori in Malahide, Co Dublin, was fined after pleading guilty to eight charges of failing to take reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of a pre-school child attending the service.
Tusla has 49 inspectors to monitor over 4,600 facilities. However, the agency admits that until recently there has not been an even spread of inspectors.
As a result, huge gaps still exist in many counties, with some premises uninspected for five years.