Tusla Must be Held to Account

Statement from Teresa Heeney CEO of Early Childhood Ireland –

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency agency charged with inspection of preschools, must be held to account for too few inspectors, too few inspections and too little progress in delivering a robust, consistent and regular inspection process.

This is according to Teresa Heeney CEO of Early Childhood Ireland who was reacting to front page headlines in the media today regarding the inconsistent preschool inspection process in Ireland.

She said that:

“Despite the evidence that the preschool inspection process is clearly fractured, a new inspection regime by the Department of Education is about to be introduced to this sector. It just doesn’t make sense in the face of the history of underinvestment in this sector.

“A key concern, which is only accentuated by media coverage today, is whether Tusla, which is first and foremost a child protection agency, is the agency that should be charged with preschool inspection.  In fact, Tusla CEO Gordon Jeyes is on the record saying just that.

“In particular, the lack of progress in terms of the childcare registration system, the revised preschool regulations, and the publication of quality standards is unacceptable and we need clear action and deadlines to make this happen. Registration, revised regulations and quality standards were all promised by then Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald as part of the 8 point Quality Agenda following RTE Primetime’s ‘Breach of Trust’ programme. We are still waiting for movement on these developments.

“Some progress has been made on the introduction of mentoring and the provision of a fund to support the upskilling of staff in the sector, and we welcome the announcement of the development of an ICT (information communications technology) system for the preschool inspection process, which we look forward to discussing with Tusla.

“However, the investment is too low and the negative headlines again regarding inspections are alarming for parents and de-motivating for those working in the sector.

“This sector can be characterized by underinvestment and over inspection, with Tusla, the Department of Education and Pobal all  involved. Proper inspection is essential, is in everyone’s interest, and something we have for a long time been calling for, on behalf of our 3,500 members running preschools and crèches supporting over 100,000 children nationwide.

“Unfortunately, our inconsistent inspection process is failing children, parents and the sector today.  A consistent, equitable, national system of inspection of early childhood education is what is required, and it should be a sure thing, not a lottery system depending on location. We must address this area with the priority and investment needed. An effective inspection process provides peace of mind for parents, a stamp of approval for the early childhood educators delivering a quality experience for children and a wakeup call for those who aren’t, with a view to raising standards and quality across the board.”

Water Charges may ‘curtail Childminding’

Water Charges may ‘curtail Childminding’

”Water Charges may ‘curtail Childminding”

Irish Examiner

Childcare services in homes used by low-income families face being closed or having to curtail their services because of financial pressures from the new water charges.

Anti-poverty charities have also called for exemptions for children over 18 who live at home but are still in education.


The concerns are in submissions to the Energy Regulator from advocacy groups.


One group also want water bills delayed until February due to financial troubles families face after Christmas.


Childminding Ireland say its members are self-employed, work from the family home, and typically mind four children at any one time. The group say minders are “core to each local economy, providing flexible childcare to allow parents to return to work”.


It adds: “They often provide services for below minimum wages, and therefore cannot afford this additional expense.”


The group say there are 37,900 childminders in Ireland who care for over 51,000 families with pre-school children.


The St Vincent de Paul has also told the regulator that free allowances should be extended for children over 18 who are still at home and finishing secondary education.


The charity wants “leniency” with Irish Water’s first bills and says payment should be in February, as opposed to January, as the post-Christmas period is “one of the most difficult periods” for household budgets.


Focus Ireland want a special cap on charges to be applied to “those moving on from homelessness,” in a similar way to how special allowances will apply to those with medical conditions.


The agency suggests allowances for vulnerable households should be added to welfare payments or through other allowances covering a broader category of people such as the fuel allowance.


It says allowances should be provided for adult children at home and in education up until the age of 23.


Focus Ireland wants pay-as-you-go-meters installed as soon as possible.


Early Childhood Ireland say services for its members “cannot operate without generous allowances of water to support children’s learning and development”.


Any new charges for its members who operate crèches and childcare facilities, some which are linked to homes, would result in job losses and closures, it warns.


The pleas were made ahead of today’s budget which will include further relief for water charges for low income families and the unemployed.

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By Juno McEnroe
Political Correspondent