Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte TD has welcomed the increase in funding for Tusla in Budget 2020 but has warned that how the agency distributes money to its Early Years Inspectorate has to be monitored closely.
Deputy Rabbitte observed:
Tuesday’s budget saw an additional €94 million allocated to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, which I welcome. Of that, €29 million is destined for Tusla, meaning its budget will now hit €814 million. This includes an increased allocation towards Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate ‘to enable it to perform its statutory function’. This is the first time this government has admitted that there’s a shortfall in the Inspectorate’s work, which has been become abundantly clear in recent months.
Deputy Rabbitte continued:
Tusla now receives considerably more funding than when it was established, but whether the outcomes have improved in tandem is debatable. With a serious problem in retaining staff at Tusla, I will be monitoring closely how Minister Zappone will deliver on this and that more money is not squandered.
The job of the Inspectorate is an important one and I know the workload of inspectors is already strained. With almost 4,500 early years providers around the country, there needs to be a system in place that ensures all providers are adhering to the regulations and this is where the Inspectorate comes in.
Deputy Rabbitte concluded:
Parents are paying a near mortgage equivalent for childcare and the least the state can do is ensure the level of care in place is up to scratch. The Inspectorate must be adequately funded so I’m keen to see a further breakdown of this allocation and my hope is that Tusla will become more transparent in how its Inspectorate operates.