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Tusla defers deadline for crèches to submit fire risk assessments

Some childcare providers were finding it “particularly challenging” to carry out fire risk assessments.

THE CHILD AND Family Agency, Tusla, has deferred the introduction of new safety regulations for childcare providers until June 2020 as some crèches were finding it “particularly challenging” to carry out fire risk assessments. 

Childcare operators previously had until 12 December to submit mandatory documentation to continue operating in 2020. These include floor plans, fire certification, planning permission and policies on the administration of medication and on safe sleep. 

Tusla said the requirements to re-register have been in place since 2016 and it has been “engaging with and supporting” providers through the process for the past 18 months. 

The agency said it recently issued correspondence to childcare providers to further clarify the requirements. 

“We understand that some providers may still be having challenges and always endeavour to support them. For example, some providers were finding it particularly challenging to carry out fire risk assessments,” a Tusla spokesperson said.  

Tusla is now permitting crèches to proceed with applications without the risk assessment included. Childcare providers now have until 30 June 2020 to submit this document.

Other documents for reregistration – garda vetting, certificate of insurance, safety statement – still have to be submitted by 12 December. 

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte told Morning Ireland the deferral is “necessary” as nearly 560 crèches are having trouble meeting planning permission and fire certification standards as part of a new re-registration process.

“Some of them had put on extensions and hadn’t actually got the proper planning permissions and now Tusla had put on them that they had to get an architect or a particular style of registered engineer to prove all this. And the county councils couldn’t cope with everything that was coming through,” Rabbitte said. 

This follows on from Tusla’s order yesterday for four Hyde&Seek creches be shut by the end of the year. The childcare providers said it intends to appeal the decision. 

Hyde&Seek came to the nation’s attention after an RTÉ Investigates piece on Prime Time. 

The programme ‘Creches, Behind Closed Doors’, which was broadcast in July, found instances of poor staffing, breaches of fire safety and rough handling of children at three creches operated by Hyde and Seek over four months this year.

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