25% of creche not inspected since 2011, says survey

Creche owners unhappy at lack of focus on quality of care during inspections

Thirty-six per cent of creches were last inspected this year, 39 per cent last year and 16 per cent in 2011, the survey showed

Thirty-six per cent of creches were last inspected this year, 39 per cent last year and 16 per cent in 2011, the survey showed

Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 01:00

Most creche owners – nearly 82 per cent – said they were happy to have their inspection reports go online, according to a survey by Early Childhood Ireland, which represents childcare providers. However, creche owners surveyed said they were unhappy at inspections, which focused too much on “dust behind a radiator” and not enough on the quality of care.

The new process began last week with the publication of inspection reports for Limerick with the rest to be published shortly.

Thirty-six per cent of creches were last inspected this year, 39 per cent last year and 16 per cent in 2011, the survey showed. But 6 per cent were last inspected in 2010 while 3 per cent have not been inspected since 2009 or before.

Only 34 per cent submitted a right of reply to their most recent inspection report ahead of its publication online, with many complaining that they had not been offered a right to reply.

Three-quarters said that if given the opportunity they would submit their right to reply before their inspection report goes online.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald promised reform of the sector, including publication of the inspection reports, in response to an RTÉ documentary which showed mistreatment of children at three creches.

Early Childhood Ireland said it was unfair to publish out-of-date inspection reports. “Putting these out-of-date reports online without a right of reply serves no one’s interests,” said Teresa Heeney, chief operations officer of Early Childhood Ireland.

The survey was conducted online and involved 1,078 members of Early Childhood Ireland, which represents 72 per cent of the 4,600 childcare providers.

Inspectors were not early childhood education professionals and were not trained to interpret regulations involving care. “I don’t agree, at all, with the current inspections process. Send me an educator to evaluate me as an educator . . . Not a nurse. I have a degree in early childhood education and a primary teaching degree . . . I wouldn’t walk into a hospital to assess a nurse,” responded one creche owner.