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Creches face being named and shamed

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Francis Fitzgerald: Photo: Damien Eagers

Francis Fitzgerald: Photo: Damien Eagers

Francis Fitzgerald: Photo: Damien Eagers

CRECHES that mistreat children are to be routinely named and shamed within a month, the Herald can reveal.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald has vowed to publish inspection reports of all childcare facilities on the internet.

The move will be widely welcomed by parents in the wake of the garda and HSE probe into two Dublin creches and one Wicklow facility this week.

Minister Fitzgerald told the Herald that she has now instructed officials within her department to begin compiling reports that will be published on the internet next month.

She said it would bring a new sense of transparency to the industry and reassure parents.

 

Investigations

"It a decision we've taken, it's the right decision and it will happen in the next few weeks," she said.

There are 4,472 pre-school service providers across the country including creches, nurseries, child minders, playgroups and Montessori schools.

In 2012, the HSE Children and Family Services undertook 2,644 routine inspections, 478 review inspections and 243 complaint investigations in these services.

The Minister said that she wanted parents to feel that they were leaving their child in good hands when they went to work.

At present parents have to request a copy of any inspection reports from the creche owner or the local health board but this can be refused.

Reports are available under FOI but even at that, the HSE tend to redact the names of the individual creche.

In contrast, inspections carried out by the Health and Information Quality Authority at homes for the elderly are routinely published online.

Minister Fitzgerald said: "Parents will be able to see what the inspector looked at, what they said and issues that they highlighted for improving.

"There are a lot of high quality childcare facilities in Ireland. Concerns do arise and have to be dealt with by the providers. We want to develop the inspection regime."

Creches receive a visit from an inspector on average every 18-24 months.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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