NO enforcement action has had to be taken against any Limerick creche in the past two years, according to the HSE.
During 2011, the HSE’s Child and Family Services carried out routine inspections of 83% of creches in Limerick while this rate fell to 73% last year.
But even this lower figure still puts Limerick at well above what RTE Prime Time estimates the national inspection rate to be - at 55%. Those behind last week’s shocking TV expose of care standards in some creches said that in some counties last year, only one in five of creches was routinely inspected by the HSE. It revealed that some creches hadn’t been inspected in almost four years.
That Limerick should have a higher than average inspection rate reflects the resources the HSE has put into inspections in this region. Figures released by the HSE show that no county does better than Limerick when it comes to the number of people employed to inspect creches. Five inspectors are currently in place in the city and county, a figure matched only in Galway, while there are five counties which have no inspectors.
A spokesperson for the HSE in Limerick said its Child and Family Services prioritised inspections of those childcare facilities which provide full-day services.
And the HSE added that it has not had to take any enforcement proceedings against creches in Limerick over the past two years.
The Executive has also pledged to start publishing new inspection reports for childcare facilities as a matter of course “within weeks” and reminded parents of their rights to see past reports on their creche.
“In the first instance parents should ask the provider for a copy. If this is not forthcoming, we will release a copy and the reply from the provider to the parent,” a spokesperson told the Chronicle.
County Limerick Childcare Committee has reacted to the Prime Time programme by saying the mistreatment of children portrayed was “not reflective of the high standard of early childhood care and education happening every day across this country”.
“We would also encourage providers to take the opportunity to discuss any concerns with parents and refer to their policies and procedures in relation to the children’s care. Parents can request to see a copy of the HSE inspector’s report for the service their child is enrolled in and can view ‘Tips for Parents’ on HSE website.”