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Is one inspector for 21,000 kids good enough?... Fresh questions raised over Ireland's creches

New figures show huge inconsistencies in the number of creche inspectors, with Dublin and the north-east faring worst.

Image: Toddler via Shutterstock

Updated at 6.31pm

CONCERNS ARE BEING raised over large inconsistencies in the level of creche inspections being carried out nationally, following the release of  figures from Tusla, the child and family agency. However, Tusla CEO Gordon Jeyes is insisting the problems have now been addressed.

The figures, which relate to 2013, show that 2,432 inspections were carried out last year by 42 inspectors.

However, the number of inspectors in each area varied greatly: in Dublin North East, comprising Dublin and the north east of the country, there was just one inspector per 21,052 children. In the Western area — including Limerick, Galway and seven surrounding counties — the ratio was one per 6,893.

The figures were provided to independent Dublin TD Roisín Shortall in answer to a parliamentary question. Shortall said early childcare inspections “should be provided for on the basis of need and the level of staffing needs to reflect the workload”.

Early childcare inspections, by region… 

[Can't see it?]

In a response to a query from TheJournal.ie, Tusla CEO Gordon Jeyes said that coverage in Dublin was an issue which the agency had now addressed.

He said the body’s 2014 plan prioritised the reorganisation of its inspection programme “on a national rather than a local or regional basis”.

“Vacancies have been filled to provide the full complement of 42 WTE (whole time equivalent) inspectors and will now be augmented by 6 additional posts.

“Currently there are approximately 4,600 early years service providers and therefore the target ratio will be one inspector to every 100 services.

“[...] the new registration process will ensure more rigorous  levels of inspections than were hitherto possible. All services will be inspected every 3 years.”

The issue of standards at the country’s creches was placed in the spotlight in May of last year in the wake of a damning RTÉ investigation. The ‘Breach of Trust’ Primetime documentary showed the mistreatment of children at a number of facilities.

The Government announced a raft of measures in response to the revelations, including the recruitment of extra inspectors, and the publication online of all creche inspections.

Tusla took over responsibility for inspections at the beginning of this year. Their reports can be viewed online here.

First posted at 1.30pm.

Read: Did you miss the Prime Time creche expose? Here’s what happened 

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