Adams calls for urgent action on childcare crisis
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD this morning raised Sinn Féin’s concerns during Leaders Questions about the disturbing and distressful report on crèche and childcare facilities on RTE last night.
He also expressed his deep concern that there are regions in the state that have no inspectors in local health offices to carry out inspections of childcare facilities.
Deputy Adams said;
“This is a scandalous situation and the HSE must move immediately to appoint inspectors for childcare facilities in those counties that have no inspectors.”
The Sinn Féin leader also committed his party to work with the government to facilitate legislative progress on the 'Children First' legislation and the establishment of the Child and Family Support Agency.
Teachta Adams said:
“While I acknowledge that there are many dedicated childcare workers and excellent crèches, Tuesday night’s RTE investigation into the management of childcare facilities and the treatment of children in some crèches, uncovered a litany of serious problems.
“Many families often pay more than their mortgages to ensure that their children are in childcare facilities. They expect that their children will be properly cared for and that their developmental, educational and learning needs will be catered for. And that all of this will be properly scrutinised and inspected by government.
“However, the RTÉ programme revealed that the needs of children are not being met. It exposed the use of unacceptable practices, such as children strapped to chairs, locked in rooms, daily diaries falsified, and young children being treated like rag dolls. This is emotional and physical abuse of these children.
“It is clear that there is a serious failure of regulation and a failure of governance. Breaches of regulations are widespread, while the inspection regime is simply not up to scratch. Crèches in some parts of the country have not been inspected for up to four years despite hundreds of complaints from parents.
“There are no inspectors in local health offices in Louth, Dublin South City, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and North Monaghan.
“This is light touch regulation at its worst. There seems to be an over emphasis on the business interests of childcare providers and under emphasis on standards and regulation. Childcare is a very profitable business, not least because those involved draw down state funding. These crèches receive millions in state funding yet there is no inspection regime.
“The government should ensure that no state funding is provided without a stringent inspection regime, proper training and robust regulation.
“The State should not be funding high cost and profitable private childcare facilities that are below standard. Children deserve better. Parents need to be reassured about the standards of care their children will receive.”