New regulations could see Tusla given the power to immediately shut childcare facilities
By COLIN BARTLEY
CHILDCARE and early learning care services in Kilkenny may be shut down immediately if found to be in breach of license or critical concerns are raised about the centre.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone is looking to implement necessary changes in childcare services, in response to the shocking revelations uncovered by the RTÉ Investigate programme ‘Crèches, Behind Closed Doors’.
The programme, broadcast last week, highlighted serious issues in one creche group, which operated without proper registration for over a year.
Minister Zappone today released a plan she said, “will strengthen child protection and quality requirements for early years services.”
Additional regulations increasing Tusla’s enforcement power is one element Minister Zappone is looking to implement. These regulations may include the power to shut down or suspend services where Tusla has critical concerns.
The Minister confirmed she asked officials in her department to examine whether this will require amendments to the Child Care Act to enable permanent or temporary closures.
She has also written to the Chair of Tusla requesting they provide her with the changes they must make to strengthen their enforcement powers and speed up the process of responding to unacceptable standards.
Tusla officials are to develop a process which will see parents being informed at the earliest opportunity of concerns being investigated. Presently Tusla can only publish reports within set parametres and timeframes. Because of this parents have no idea the regulator has concerns.
As part of the new regulations, the Minister will make it mandatory for Early Years Providers to display a certificate of registration on their premises, alongside details of any conditions imposed by Tusla.
“As Minister for Children my priority has, and will always be, putting the protection of the child first,” Minister Zappone said.
“Parents should always feel confident in placing their children into a childcare facility registered with the State. It’s very important parents understand that not every childcare facility in the country has issues like the ones shown last week. Most service providers work tirelessly to provide a great service and I commend those services.
“I want to send a strong message to the tiny number that do not operate in the best interests of children – the regulator will not tolerate this, and I will not tolerate it.”