Department fails to appoint inspector to childcare agency


The setting up of a social services inspectorate has been delayed by the failure of the Department of Health to appoint a chief inspector, a position advertised last August.

This measure was announced by the Minister of State for Children, Mr Frank Fahey, last year. The inspectorate will initially concentrate on childcare services provided by the State but recent allegations regarding the ISPCC have provoked calls for its remit to be extended to the voluntary sector. This would require legislation.

It is understood that five people were interviewed for the position but none was appointed and the position remains vacant. According to a statement by the Department of Health, "the interview board was unable to appoint a suitable candidate".

The statement continued: "The Department of Health and Children is currently looking at ways to proceed with the establishment of the inspectorate and options are being examined at present.

"We will be advertising for three inspectors in March and the necessary administrative arrangements to establish the inspectorate are also being put in train."

The advertisement for a chief inspector sought applications from people with professional qualifications in the area, at least five years' experience at a senior and managerial level in the delivery of personal social services, a knowledge of the area and experience of leadership of staff and policy formulation and implementation.

The inspectorate will be involved for an initial three-year period in the inspection of residential homes for children, the monitoring of childcare services, the evaluation of the quality and responsiveness of services as experienced by users and carers, the provision of professional advice and expertise to the Department on childcare policy and the development of strategies to give effect to recommendations of relevant inquiry and review reports.