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Red tape leaves parents stranded

News

Childcare providers unable to open due to inspection delays

Anton McNulty

A NUMBER of parents have been forced to find alternative childcare arrangements for their young children this week after as many as five Mayo childcare providers could not open because they are still waiting for Tusla to carry out  Fit for Purpose inspections.
The childcare facilities told the shocked parents in recent days that they could not open until Tusla carries out the inspection and gives them the go ahead to operate.
The majority of the premises that could not open have been operating for a number of years, but because they have carried out refurbishments or other changes to their premises they have to have a Fit for Purpose inspection before they can operate a Tusla-registered Early Years Service.
One childcare provider told The Mayo News that they have submitted their documents to Tusla but cannot register and operate until the Fit for Purpose inspection is carried out. Despite numerous requests for an inspection, the childcare provider said, they have yet to receive confirmation as to when the inspection will take place.
“There are five places I know of including my own who cannot open today because we are waiting for Tusla to carry out a Fit for Purpose inspection. I had to text parents on Thursday and Friday last telling them I would not be open this week, and I don’t think the inspection will take place in time for next week. It could take weeks before they carry out an inspection.
“The parents have been understanding, but if I cannot open soon the parents will take their children to another provider and I will have lost them for the year,” the childcare provider, who did not wish to be named, said last night.
The delay in registering with Tusla means that the childcare providers cannot apply for funding for  such schemes as the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme, which offers a free pre-school year for parents.
“I will have to take the hit because I will not be able to get funding, because Tusla are so slow in carrying out the inspections,” the childcare provider said, adding they had contacted local representatives on the matter.

Documentation
Michelle Basquille, Acting County Childcare Coordinator with Mayo County Childcare Committee (MCCC), told The Mayo News that she is aware of some childcare providers who are waiting for the Fit for Purpose inspection to be carried out at their premises.
She explained that the remit of the MCCC is to deliver early-childhood care and education programmes in Mayo. The committee works ‘collaboratively and collectively’ with the Department of Children & Youth Affairs, Pobal and stakeholders within the childcare sector to achieve this.
While accepting that the lack of resources can cause inspection delays, she said that childcare providers also have to have all their documentation in order before Tusla will carry out an inspection.
“Tusla informed CCI [Childcare Committee Ireland] that the 90 days’ notice that a new service must give Tusla will not start until the registration office has received a full application with all required documents. The registrar will only request a Fit for Purpose inspection from the inspectors when the service registration is complete,” she stated.
“The problem often occurs when providers are away for the summer and come back and submit their documents and think it is as simple as Tusla coming out to inspect and sign off. It is not as quick as that. Tusla needs everything to be correct and in order, and when that is not the case, this is when there can be a hold up.”
Ms Basquille said that although she understands the difficulties that many providers are in,  the MCCC could not do anything to advance matters. The committee’s advice for providers would be to continue to liaise with Tusla.
Meanwhile, one of the childcare providers affected by the inspection delays  said that Tusla is ‘quick to make demands’ of providers while offering ‘little or no support or guidance’ to childcare facilities to help them meet its requirements.
“The services fall apart when the support is so minimal and the main victims of this approach are the children,” they said.

MPU Mayo