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Better qualified staff and robust inspections in new pre-school agenda

The new ‘Pre-school Quality Agenda’ will ensure action is taken in response to findings of non-compliance.

“THERE HAS BEEN too much of a focus on building facilities and not enough on building children’s futures,” said the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald as she announced a comprehensive and multi-faceted pre-school quality agenda.

Addressing the official launch of the new National Association of Childhood Professionals in Dublin, the Minister said the scale of the action must not be underestimated.

There is no one single simple solution. We should not distil our national response to a narrow or overly-simplistic focus on single aspects of the current debate, such as, for example, inspections.

The announcement comes following the RTÉ Prime Time investigation into the mistreatment of children at three creches in Dublin and Wicklow.

The programme, ‘A Breach of Trust’, showed staff aggressively handling children, shouting at them, and fabricating entries in daily diaries detailing what the children had done that day. In one incident, a baby was left in a high chair for two hours, while other children were strapped to their chairs for long periods.

The Minister said that this agenda involved working to:

  • Increase the required qualification standards of childcare staff;
  • Support implementation of Síolta and Aistear, including examining the establishment of nationwide mentoring supports;
  • Implement new National Pre-School Standards.;
  • Introduce registration of all childcare providers;
  • Develop a more robust, consistent and regular inspection system;
  • Publish inspection reports;
  • Ensure action is taken in response to findings of non-compliance;
  • Increase sanctions for non-compliant childcare providers.

If you were affected by the issues raised in the programme, you may wish to contact Barnardos at (01) 454 9699 or the ISPCC at (01) 6767 960.

Related: Ireland is missing targets on the provision of childcare>
More: Profit-making childhood services to pay ‘significant registration fee’>
Read: Did you miss the Prime Time creche expose? Here’s what happened>

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