Tusla refuse to give details of 37 creches on high-risk register

Tusla refuse to give details of 37 creches on high-risk register

- with reporting from Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Ireland's child protection watchdog has refused to give details of the 37 creches that are on a high-risk register.

It also emerged that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is not aware of the identity of the 37 facilities.

The Child and Family Agency, Tusla, said they would not be sharing further details of the creches because the services had a right to fair procedures, which could be highly litigious.

It was also concerned that releasing information could cause “significant issues” in any future prosecutions of sub-standard services preventing them from removing these services from the register.

“This would not be in the best interests of children and families,” it warned.

The Oireachtas children's committee held an emergency meeting on Wednesday in the wake of RTÉ Investigates creche exposé.

Fianna Fáil's Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, to explain what her department was doing to allay parents' concerns.

“It's clear from yesterday's [Wednesday] meeting that Tusla does not have adequate powers to deal with creches that are in breach of regulation,” Ms Rabbitte wrote in a letter to the minister that she posted on Twitter.

“It's also apparent that there is no sense of openness or transparency in the current inspection system,” she added.

Parents are being left in the dark and have no idea if a creche is not adhering to the regulations because Tusla doesn't have any legal powers to tell parents or to force creches to tell them either.

Ms Zappone has asked Tusla to update her on the status of all 37 cases and the agency has agreed to her request. Tusla has also confirmed to the minister that all services it had de-registered in the past closed immediately.

The agency's director of quality assurance, Brian Lee, said it completely understood the concern that parents had regarding Tusla being unable to share information with them when an early years' service was undergoing enforcement action.

“This would never prevent us from informing a parent where there is an immediate child protection concern being managed by the social work team, and we hope this provides some reassurance to parents during this time,” said Mr Lee.

Tusla said the vast majority of early years services at the highest level of enforcement made the necessary changes to improve the standard of care and, as a result, were “de-escalated” from this level of concern.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said CCTV should only be used in creches if it has the complete backing of parents.

“On the issue of CCTV in creches, it is something that has to be considered, but it needs to be considered carefully as well,” he said.

He would want to know what parents thought of having CCTV in creches. While parents might be reassured by having CCTV in creches, they might not like their children being videoed all the time.

“So I think there's a balance of issues there that will have to be considered before going ahead with that."

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