herald

Sunday 20 May 2018

34pc of childcare centres failing to ensure staff are fully vetted

A still from RTE’s 2013 Breach Of Trust programme.
A still from RTE’s 2013 Breach Of Trust programme.

The lack of garda vetting of childcare workers is still causing major concern following a series of inspections by the children's watchdog.

Child Care Facility Inspection reports conducted by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, on nearly 2,400 creches, playgroups, nurseries and daycare centres show that last year many were failing to comply with basic rules on garda vetting and references for staff.

Random checks of 100 rep-orts, seen by the Herald, showed 34pc were non-compliant.

One Dublin childcare centre had no garda vetting available for two employees, proof of ID was not available for three workers and CVs were not available for two.

Evidence

By law, all pre-school services are required to ensure appropriate vetting of all staff, students and volunteers who have access to a child.

Adults without garda vetting and references must never be left alone with children and must be supervised at all times until the processes of vetting and references are returned.

The centres that did not have garda clearance available for staff members were directed to obtain the clearance, produce evidence that clearance had been obtained or get or provide evidence of adequate references and identification.

Other safety breaches included a lack of monthly fire drills, which are required to be carried out and records kept.

Inspectors also discovered a lack of records for the servicing of firefighting equipment.

The inspections found that the behaviour management policy at a number of centres did not state that corporal punishment would never be inflicted on a pre-school child under their care.

That is a requirement under the child protection policy.

Several services were found not to have their accident, injury or incident records signed by parents/guardians to document that they had been informed of a mishap.

Each Early Years Services centre inspected, if found to be non-compliant in any area of governance, health, welfare and development of the child or safety, is given 10 working days to provide Tusla with a written response detailing the plan to address the non-compliances.

These latest revelations come a day after the Herald revealed that many childcare facilities are still failing to meet proper standards, despite the horrors uncovered in RTE's 2013 Breach Of Trust programme.

Official inspections of preschool childcare facilities by Tusla revealed breaches in health and safety and risks posed to young children at many of the centres.

Strangulation

The breaches include window blind cords not being secured to walls, posing a potential strangulation risk; some facilities with no hot water; children's hands not being washed before meals; nappy-changing mats torn and not cleaned properly after each change; and cleaning solutions being stored on window sills.

At one facility the gate from the garden area was unsecured, and an infection control policy was not in place.

Inspectors observed cleaning agents being stored on the floor in a staff toilet that was accessible to pre-school children and posed a potential risk of poisoning.

At another facility, dishwasher detergent capsules were accessible to children.

Following a painting activity before lunchtime at another facility, a staff member was observed carrying in a plastic basin of water, and the children were using it as a communal basin in which to wash their hands.

Drinking water was not freely available, and baby bottles containing drinks from home were not individually labelled at another child care facility.

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