Local intervention and national action must follow RTÉ Investigates programme
Early Childhood Ireland remains deeply concerned about the multiple issues raised in the RTÉ Investigates programme on crèches, which aired last week.
Speaking today in Dublin, Frances Byrne, Director of Policy with Early Childhood Ireland said: “What was witnessed in the undercover footage was the unacceptable treatment of babies and children. We strongly believe that this is the exception to what happens in crèches around Ireland, but nonetheless the multiple breaches of regulation, law, and practice were hugely distressing.
Many Early Childhood Ireland members have been in touch to tell us of their enormous anguish about the content of the programme. They have been heartened, though, by the large number of parents who have contacted them to express their confidence in the quality of the service being provided every day to their babies and children. Every parent deserves to feel this confidence and it is now time for the government to put in place the reforms which will deliver that assurance now and into the future.”
Early Childhood Ireland today (30.07.19) outlined two essential actions to ensure that the issues raised in the programme are addressed, and to ensure parents and the public are reassured.
- Urgent remedial action is required within the settings identified by RTÉ A small team comprising staff from the Tusla, Pobal, Better Start agencies as well as the County Childcare Committees should be established immediately by the Department of Children & Youth Affairs. The team should deliver significant and sustainable interventions so that substantial changes can be made which address the failings identified by the programme. One person stepping back, along with a review, is not enough for the families involved, or the staff members who have been trying to address the failings internally.
- The government has the opportunity to transform the funding, administration and oversight of the early years sector, and in turn provide parents and the wider public with the reassurances they need. There is a commitment within the national early years strategy, First 5, to examine the establishment of a dedicated statutory agency for the early years sector. Early Childhood Ireland believes that this is now the time to move from aspiration to action. A ‘one stop shop’ approach would end the fragmentation of the oversight of the sector and deliver consolidated and streamlined planning, funding, administration, inspection and quality. This agency would also implement the proposed actions to support greater parental involvement in early years settings, which is vital. The strategy references a potential ‘real time’ database of settings with links to inspection reports and other relevant information. This is essential and an effective agency with proper legal powers could deliver this.
“We urge the government to fast-track the establishment of an early years agency in the interests of babies, children, parents, the wider public and a professional early years sector which is fully supportive of a modernised, fit-for-purpose system.” concluded Ms Byrne.