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HEAD OF DONEGAL CHILDCARE URGES PEOPLE TO LOOK AT BIGGER PICTURE ON CRECHE DANGERS

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first_imgThe Donegal County Childcare Manager has said that systems to run and evaluate standards in creches across the county are “ad hoc, disjointed, undervalued and under resourced.”Avril McMonagle was reacting to the latest HSE Inspection reports which showed some Donegal creches posed risks to children including scalding and strangulation in some places.Ms McMonagle adds that some of the systems used to carry out the inspections into creches are now “not fit for purpose.” Donegal is the latest County to see the online appearance of HSE Inspection Reports of early childhood services conducted by the HSE.By close of business yesterday, 39 out of a potential 150 Inspection Reports have been posted online on the Pobal Website for public viewing.The first batch of reports represents both community and privately run childcare services and provides information in relation to compliance or non-compliance under a number of regulations as stipulated by the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006.However Ms McMonagle has urged people to read the full reports in context of the wider aspects of the services featured. She says the current inspection format is weighted heavily on the side of environmental and health and safety requirements and does not give due justification to some of the qualitative aspects of early childhood care and education.That being said, Avril stated that it can’t be denied that some of those featured represent worrying breeches considering the standards set out in the regulations represent a minimum acceptable threshold below which it’s simply not be credible to go, in terms of safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of children.Avril is quick to acknowledge that although childcare providers have ultimate responsibility for ensuring compliance with all regulations, to apportion blame solely to childcare providers would over simplify what is a very complex issue.She points out that historical State disinterest in early intervention services that lay the foundations for all future life and educational achievements, has resulted in systems that are ad hoc, disjointed, undervalued and under resourced.Although she considers there to be many challenges in the sector currently – not least the cost of childcare, the non-implementation of policy frameworks and the lack of supports for children with special needs; she attributes some of the findings of inspections to a system of regulation and inspection that is not fit for purpose. A detailed report into the early childhood care and education sector in Ireland conducted by the OECD in 2004, clearly stated that Ireland’s system of regulation is weak in comparison to other countries as they contain minimum standards and not indicators of quality.Despite the fact that our current regulations are essentially a license to practice, and do not include sufficient incentives to train, employ qualified staff or continually improve expertise, nothing has been done to amend our regulatory system.Avril believes that the absence of an appropriately weighted system of regulation that incentivises compliance and good practice is hugely discouraging for the many childcare providers who are working tirelessly to provide high quality services for children and families across the county. The lack of sanctions for repeated non-compliance means that childcare services that are consistently in breach of regulations are no worse off that those who are mainly compliant due to the lack of an appropriate system of quality standards and regulation.Avril concluded that we urgently need to overhaul our system of inspection, regulation and compliance to develop a system that is equitable, fair and fit for purpose. This is essential to ensure not only quality provision for children but a justifiable and value for money return for public investment. When asked for a top 3 proposals that she would put in place in terms of revisions to the system of regulation to ensure that quality standards are improved she recommended the introduction of a registration process that requires those who wish to operate a childcare service to show compliance with all statutory requirements prior to opening. In line with this, a de-registration process needs to be put in place for those who consistently and repeatedly fail to meet minimum standards.She added that a weighted system of compliance needs to be introduced that differentiates between minor and more serious breaches of the Regulations and that the current model of inspection, which is compliance based, needs to be reviewed to include a model which is based on positive outcomes for children.Avril believes that access to and the continuation of public funding in the form of capital grants or childcare funding schemes such as the ECCE scheme should be linked to the outcome of inspections. This would act as an incentive and reward for the many services that are working hard to maintain high standards of early childhood care and education across County Donegal.HEAD OF DONEGAL CHILDCARE URGES PEOPLE TO LOOK AT BIGGER PICTURE ON CRECHE DANGERS was last modified: August 22nd, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Avril McMonagledangersDonegal County ChildcareHSEreportslast_img read more