Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte TD, has raised her concerns over the revelation that there are 37 crèches deemed as ‘critical’ on Tusla’s risk register, which is the highest level, and is also calling for more transparency in the system.
Representatives from Tusla and the office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs appeared before the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs on Wednesday to discuss the fallout from last week’s RTÉ Investigates programme ‘Crèches – Behind Closed Doors’.
Speaking after the meeting, Deputy Rabbitte commented,
There are four stages on Tusla’s risk register and we learned today, in response to a question I asked, that there are 37 crèches at the highest level of critical, which is worrying. We were not provided with a breakdown of what type of services, so we don’t know if they are full day or half day, or indeed where they are in the country.
Deputy Rabbitte continued:
It is clear from today’s meeting that Tusla doesn’t have the adequate powers to deal with crèches that are in breach of regulations. There is no sense of openness or transparency in the current inspection system. Parents are left in the dark if a crèche isn’t adhering to the regulations because Tusla doesn’t have any legal powers to tell parents or to force crèches to tell them either. To provide parents with peace of mind, I would ask that all crèches to let parents know where they can access their inspection reports but, crucially, crèches should voluntarily let parents know if they’re in breach of regulations and what steps are being taken to address the issues concerned, particularly with these 37 crèches.
Deputy Rabbitte concluded:
Transparency is key here and at least then, parents can make an informed decision as to what they feel is best for their child. There’s an even greater sense of urgency around this now and it is vital the relevant amendments to legislation are tabled as soon as possible. This is something I would be aiming to do once the Dáil returns in September.