Risks to Children’s Safety in Childcare Must be Reduced, says Children’s Rights Alliance
The Children’s Rights Alliance has responded to publication of the 2016 Annual Report of Tusla’s Early Years’ Inspectorate. The Inspectorate is responsible for inspecting pre-schools, crèches, day care and similar services that cater for children aged up to six years.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “Dropping your child off to crèche or pre-school should not instill parental fear and neither should it be a lottery of risk. The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate’s efforts to enact a national approach to regulation and standards. Despite this, it is very disappointing to see that children’s health, safety and even their lives at risk still put at risk.
While the Alliance welcomes that Tusla’s Early Years Inspectors found in 2016 that childcare services are compliant with just over three-quarters of legal minimum standards that childcare centres must abide by, we are still faced with non-compliance on one in five of the minimum standards.
106 centres did not have Garda/police vetting for all of their staff that work directly with children. This means around 4,500 children in childcare settings are exposed to people who are not Garda vetted – potentially creating a risk to their safety. It is the law since 2016 that all people with considerable direct access must be Garda vetted.
Tusla’s Early Years Inspectors found that 51 services had no records on their efforts to ensure fire maintenance, in line with fire safety regulations. There may be approximately 2,400 children in these services. 63 services did not meet the children’s basic health, welfare and development needs, affecting approximately 2,700 children, with 43 services not meeting what Tusla calls, children’s “basic needs”.
A serious safety risk was identified by Tusla’s Early Years’ Inspectorate, where window blind cords were hanging loosely, and could be accessed by the children, creating a risk of strangulation to a child. Around 500 children in 18 childcare centres were exposed to this potentially lethal hazard. Parents are very aware of the danger to children from these cords – there have been sad incidents in children’s homes and in childcare services previously."
Tanya Ward concluded: “Young children are vulnerable. They are relying on their parents, service providers and the State to look out for their best interests. Today’s inspection report provides us with evidence of the continued need for national regulation and inspection to improve basic standards for children to keep them safe and well. It also reminds us that all children, where they are in centre-based care or home-based paid childminding, have the right to be safe services that nurture them, and support their health and development.”
For media queries, please contact:
Emma McKinley, Children’s Rights Alliance: 01 662 9400, 087 6559067
Notes to Editor
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive is available for comment and/or interview.
• The Annual Report 2016 of Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate is available here
• Estimates of the numbers of children affected by non-compliance is based on multiplying the number of services in breach of a regulation by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ figure on the average number of children per childcare service in 2016/7Ireland, which is 44. Pobal (2017) Early Years Sector Profile 2016-2017, pg. 7, https://www.pobal.ie/Publications/Documents/Early%20Years%20Sector%20Profile%20Report%202016-2017.pdf