One quarter of complaints made about early-years services for children in 2015 related to child safety.
The figures are contained in Tusla’s annual report of its early-years inspectorate, which monitors pre-schools, play groups, nurseries, crèches, daycare, and similar services for children aged up to six years.
Some 2,302 early-years services were inspected by Tusla in 2015. That’s a 74% increase on the figure for 2014 (1,326).
About 258 complaints about early-years services were investigated. Of these, 32% related to governance; 28% to health, welfare and development of the child; 25% to safety; and 15% to facilities. Two prosecutions were taken by Tusla, on foot of its inspections.
The report also contains an analysis of 500 randomly selected inspection reports from 2015.
The overall level of compliance, across regulations, was 72%.
In terms of non-compliant findings, the main areas of concern included health, welfare and development of the child; first aid; management and staffing; behaviour management; fire safety measures; safety measures; and insurance.
The analysis also reveals that there are ongoing challenges in respect of children’s safety and garda/police vetting in early-years services.
46% of services in the analysis were reported to be non-compliant in the area of children’s safety, and 38% of services were reported to be non-compliant in the area of garda vetting.
Commenting on the report, the Tusla director of quality assurance, Brian Lee, said there were still many areas within the regulations that required improvement.
“While we identified a lot of good practice and there were high levels of overall compliance with the regulations, it is clear that there are still some areas that require further attention and improvement on the part of early-years services.
“We are continuing to focus our inspection work on these areas of non-compliance, and risk in services across the country, to drive the highest possible levels of compliance and the best care and safety possible for children attending early-years services,” he said.
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