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Cabinet approves tough new measures for creches

Creches would have to be registered to operate and inspectors would be granted greater powers under the proposed new laws.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Image: Photocall Ireland

MINISTERS HAVE SIGNED off on proposed new laws to strengthen the regulation of pre-school childcare services.

Under the new measures, all pre-schools and creches will have to be registered in order to operate.

Inspectors will also be granted new enforcement powers, and will be able to threaten non co-operating facilities with the removal of registration.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that childcare facilities would only by put out of business after several warnings were given.

“If you lose your registration, you won’t be able to continue,” the Minister said.

“Due process will be in place. If these standards are not in place, then play-schools and preschools will get time to correct them, but we will ensure now that inspectors have the power if improvements aren’t made that they can say ‘you’re going to lose your registration’”.

The Minister said that 39 inspectors were currently employed in the system, and that she hoped to have another ten in place by the end of the year.

The draft legislation also gives the Children’s Minister the power to set qualification levels for the early years sector the first time, and will also allow for the regulation of after-school services.

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Minister Fitzgerald will bring the proposals before the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children next week.

The regulation and inspection of pre-schools and creches came under the spotlight this year following an investigative programme by RTE revealing serious failings in some facilities.

Read: Anger as Prime Time shows mistreatment of creche children >

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

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Daragh Brophy

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