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Comment on Tusla Inspection Report

October 16, 2014

Early Childhood Ireland response to research on preschools inspections published by Tusla today

 

Teresa Heeney, CEO, Early Childhood Ireland says : “We acknowledge and welcome the fact that preschool inspections have now, for the first time, been analysed on such a strategic and national basis.

“That means that we all have access to the information relating to 3,007 inspection reports carried out to May 2013 at the same time, rather than waiting for the media to publish reports under freedom of information which immediately puts the early years sector on the defensive and can panic parents.

“The level of analysis coming from Tusla today is very detailed, and we must examine it thoroughly over the coming days. In tandem, we must remind everyone, especially parents, that there are 4,700 registered services around the country. Each of these services has to comply with over 100 regulations as part of the Pre School Inspection process. It is a suitably rigorous and onerous process. We trust that this type of in depth reporting from Tusla will be produced on an annual basis, so that we can track progress from one year to another, in each area of the country, while also giving services their right to reply and to show their progress and how they’ve addressed any breaches.

“We are glad to hear that the Tusla research report published today shows that the level of compliance with preschool regulations is high, with most providers in compliance with most regulations. It is about time that the hard work of the majority of early childhood care and education professionals up and down the country is recognised, particularly after the landmark Primetime programme “Breach of Trust” which shocked everyone .

“Regarding non compliance we must also remind parents that most issues are sorted out on the spot, or within days of the inspection and we encourage open communications between parents and practitioners in this regard, in identifying any non compliant issues and what’s been done about it. Having said that serious breaches must be identified, addressed and dealt with and a robust, consistent and frequent inspection process is what we all want. The health, safety and wellbeing of children is central to good practice and we will not defend bad practice.

“The issue of garda vetting which was one of the key areas of non compliance in this report has subsided significantly, with the process now taking a much shorter 2 to 3 weeks.

“However, we can’t talk quality without talking investment. Quality costs. And to say that we are disappointed with the lack of investment in the sector from this week’s budget is an understatement. The cabinet is populated by senior ministers who are fully aware of the importance and value of this sector-Minister James Reilly, former Ministers for Children Fitzgerald and Flanagan, the Minister for Education and Science Jan O Sullivan who has spoken very strongly about the value of early childhood education. Not to mention the Tanaiste Joan Burton who has issued many statements on the importance of good early childhood education for families. Despite this, we got no increase in capitation in the ECCE (free preschool) scheme and the current rates are too low for sustainability; no mention of continuous professional development (CPD) to become an integral part of this scheme, which is so badly needed as not one minute of child free time to cover essentials like the administration around compliance, meetings with parents and training.

“So again we would say that high expectations without the right level of investment just won’t be realised, and for many of our members it’s a weekly/monthly struggle just to cover their costs.

“What we need is a fast track to quality and the pace of change is still too slow and again that’s down to commitment not yet backed up by real investment.”

Ends.

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