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Crèche Inspections

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Deputy Frances Fitzgerald

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Snippet Contents:

I thank colleagues for raising the range of issues. The question is whether a more robust inspection system would have found the problems instanced last night. The international evidence is that if there is an inspection system which engages in a positive way with providers, working with them to improve standards and which collaborates over time, there is a higher chance that the kinds of scenes we saw last night would be avoided or uncovered through an inspection system. Nevertheless, it would not be guaranteed, and there is a range of other issues that must be addressed in order to provide the safe environment about which Deputy Lyons has spoken. That would encompass dealing with issues.
A certain focus has not been evident historically, and there are large legacy issues in the area that we will not be able to address overnight. Nevertheless, I should be clear that they will be addressed. I have stated that what I saw last night was emotional abuse and there is no question about that, as children's developmental needs were ignored and responses were inappropriate in many instances. There is a big job to be done.
There are many excellent community crèches and child care services where parents are receiving a high quality service. We also have good private facilities. Nevertheless, we must have a robust inspection system and deal with the issues raised by many Deputies, including sanctions, compliance and consequences like prosecutions. All those elements must be addressed. At times, this may not be the way we want to go as we want to primarily provide a high-quality service but all the elements must be addressed.
In April this year there were a total of 270 community child care schemes and every Deputy in the House knows about the quality in many of those community services. There is still work to be done with qualifications and access-----