A number of creche owners approached MummyPages.ie, an online parenting community, to highlight the pressure they are under because of the current regime.
Recent figures from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, revealed major regional variations in early childcare inspections but private creche owners claim it is just the tip of the iceberg. They say they are struggling to cope with new requirements following RTÉ’s Prime Time investigation into mistreatment at three creches in Dublin and Wicklow.
Mum-in-residence for MummyPages, Laura Haugh, said parents were anxious to highlight the concerns of creche owners and to ensure that new regulations are grounded in reality.
Manager of Star Tots Creche in Stillorgan, Dublin, Nathalie Roberts, said the childcare facility had its last inspection in April 2013, and one previously in 2010.
“We have no support and no one to go for advice on different issues,” she said.
“When an inspector does come in, they spend very little time observing the childcare workers, children and overall running of the creche. Instead, they spend 90% of their time in the office checking the paperwork.”
She said the volume of paperwork had become a major concern.
“The emphasis should be on caring for the children and not on the countless forms we are required to fill in each day,” said Ms Roberts.
Chairperson of the Association of Childcare Professionals, Marian Quinn, said the introduction of new childcare standards had been delayed for months and this was adding to the frustration felt by some creche owners.
The standards, now expected to be launched at the end of the year, will be used in tandem with regulations already in place.
Ms Quinn said there would be no harm in releasing them so that creche owners could become comfortable with them.
“If they are all about good practice then they should be out there already,” she said.
However, while she did not believe the quality of childcare being delivered was suffering because of the amount of paperwork required, staff were at risk of burn-out because of the amount of work they were having to do after time spent caring for children.
Ms Quinn said it was planned to tie the new standards with an inspection process that would be more transparent and that would identify good as well as bad practice.