THE Louth area is in the process of recruiting a dedicated pre-school inspections officer (public health nurse), according to the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Currently, a senior Environmental Health Officer is continuing to carry out inspections, with assistance being provided by the Pre School Officer for Meath as and if required.
A statement issued by the HSE said: “The HSE Children & Family Services takes all complaints seriously and, if required, will carry out an inspection of the crèche/childcare facility following receipt of a complaint.
“Children & Family Services will continue to work to ensure that these childcare centres are providing a high quality of care and that any shortcomings are addressed adequately.”
The HSE has advised parents when choosing a crèche or childcare facility for their child or if they have any concerns regarding the standard of the service provided in a crèche, to can ask their crèche for a copy of the most recent Inspection report.
The HSE Children and Family Services intend to publish these inspection reports online in the coming months, so that they are more readily available to parents.
“Parents who may have a concern relating to their child care provider they should firstly raise this with the service provider. In the vast majority of cases the management of the service can take action to resolve the concerns,” said the statement.
“However, if a parent is not satisfied with the response provided by the childcare service then they can contact Children & Family Services Inspectors who will investigate their concerns.”
Advice for parents on selecting a child care service and accessing Inspection reports is available on www.hse.ie.
Crèches and pre-schools in some parts of the country have not been inspected by authorities for up to four years, despite hundreds of complaints from parents regarding standards across the sector.
Speaking about the current inspection regine, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said: “The whole area of under fives has been inadequately focused on in the past ten years. I believe that we have not put enough attention into these areas.”
The HSE has defended its inspection regime stating: “Creches receive a visit from an inspector on average every 18 to 24 months, This compares favourably with other jurisdictions where visits take place, in the UK for example, every three to four years.”
Louth Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams said: “This is a scandalous situation and the HSE must move immediately to appoint an inspector for childcare facilities in the county.”
He added: “There are no inspectors in local health offices in Louth, Dublin South City, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and North Monaghan.
This is light touch regulation at its worst.”