Safety problems in childcare services highlighted in report

Tusla inspectors voice concern over level of Garda vetting in early years services

Problems around children’s safety and Garda vetting in early years services have been highlighted by a report from Tusla. Photograph: iStock

Problems around children’s safety and Garda vetting in early years services have been highlighted by a report from Tusla. Photograph: iStock

 

Ongoing problems around children’s safety and Garda vetting in early years services have been highlighted by a report from Tusla, the child and family agency.

The agency said safety issues around children were identified in 54 per cent of services from a random sample of 500 inspection reports.

Cord blinds were particularly highlighted as a hazard to children’s safety and 35 specific instances were cited by inspectors.

The report said 38 per cent of services were non-compliant in Garda vetting, although it pointed out that this has been addressed in recent legislation.

The annual Early Years Inspectorate report found 21 per cent of services in the sample of 500 were non-compliant in the area of health, welfare and development of the child.

In one case it was observed that two children under the age of two were put to sleep lying down in cots, sucking milk from bottles, which may have led to a risk of choking or aspiration.

In another example, inspectors noted children had limited or no options for play and became unsettled or upset.

Overall, the report said compliance across regulations in 2015 was 72 per cent. Tusla’s director of quality assurance Brian Lee said the agency identified a lot of good practice but some areas clearly require improvement.

“We are continuing to focus our inspection work on these areas of non-compliance and risk in services across the country to drive the highest possible levels of compliance and the best care and safety possible for children attending early years services,” he said.

Tusla inspected 2,302 early years services – pre-schools, play groups, nurseries, crèches, day-care and similar services which cater for children aged up to six years – in 2015, a 74 per cent increase on 2014.

It investigated 258 complaints about early years services and took two prosecutions.

Tusla received 137 new service notifications in 2015 and by the end of the year there were 4,465 early years services registered in Ireland.