Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 25/06/2013. Tags: Parenting Kids Health
The number of inspections carried out at creches in Ireland have fallen markedly in the last two years, new research has shown.
According to figures revealed at the latest Health Service Executive (HSE) regional health forum, this amount has dipped by almost 30 per cent in the past 24 months - and staff cutbacks have been cited as one reason for the reduction, the Irish Examiner reports.
Health Minister Dr James Reilly and Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald have both offered reassurances that the safety of children is being ensured by the HSE, but opposition parties believe an under-resourced inspection system is the cause of the decline in creche checks.
The figures revealed that the inspection rate in the region spanning Munster and the South East stood at 612 in 2012, which is considerably lower than the 745 that took place in 2011.
In the first three months of this year, 138 inspections were carried out, indicating a year-end rate of just 552 if the trend continues.
It was shown that while 14 checks per week were typically conducted in 2011, the average slumped to just ten inspections every seven days in the first quarter of 2013.
Fianna Fail children's spokesman Robert Troy noted the problems highlighted in HSE South are likely to be seen across the rest of Ireland.
Mr Troy said the figures show there are not enough inspectors in the system at present, adding: "Every creche should be checked at least once a year, but this isn't happening. The fact is, as the health committee has been told, there are more animal welfare inspectors in the country than early years services inspectors."
He explained that Minister Reilly has proposed publishing inspection reports online going forward, but noted: "If you don't have enough inspectors to check all creches, there's no point because you can't publish information you don't have."
The news comes after concerns over childcare standards were raised following the broadcast of an RTE Prime Time programme that highlighted mistreatment of children at three creches in Ireland.
Written by Donal Walsh