Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (238, 239)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

238. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will include early childhood specialists within inspection teams to build an existing expertise within the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41412/13]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

239. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on behalf of Early Childhood Ireland, if she will ensure that services have the right to reply on all inspection reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41413/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006 as provided in the Child Care Act 1991, the Health Service Executive has responsibility for the inspection of services and the enforcement of the regulations. Inspection is carried out to monitor compliance with the Regulations thereby ensuring the health, safety and welfare of children and the promotion of their development.

I understand that the HSE in May this year introduced national standard procedures which will afford childcare service providers the right to reply to their inspection reports. The process of publishing all reports on-line is underway which will allow open access to parents, providers and the general public to inspection findings.

We are working on developing a more robust, consistent and regular inspection system There has been a significant programme of work underway in the HSE over the past year to develop a single, consistent national inspection service. Building on this work, officials of my Department and the Department of Education and Skills have been examining options to incrementally develop a more comprehensive and broader-based inspection regime for pre-schools; moving away from a narrow focus on compliance, and leading to a greater focus on children's outcomes, including educational development and child wellbeing.

The staff of the HSE's pre-school inspection service will transfer to the new Child and Family Agency which will be established shortly. New national management arrangement are being introduced to ensure consistency and the best use of resources. The configuration of the inspection teams will be considered as part of this process.