Responsibility for the inspection of childcare services, which previously came under the remit of the HSE, transferred to the new Child and Family Agency from January. Inspection is carried out to monitor compliance with the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations with the aim of ensuring the health, safety and welfare of children enrolled in pre-school services.
When the Regulations were introduced in 1996, the role of preschool inspector was assigned to Public Health Nurses, whose training and experience gives them a particular expertise in child development. While some inspectors have since been appointed with different backgrounds, there is a Labour Court decision which confines the posts to Public Health Nurses. It is my view that it would strengthen the inspectorate if there were inspectors from a broader range of backgrounds, including early years graduates. However, it will be a matter for the Agency to negotiate with the relevant Trade Union to allow for wider recruitment.