‘Spot in­spec­tions there to sup­port us, not to trick us’

Irish Independent - - News - Ni­cola Don­nelly

THE man­ager of a crèche and Montes­sori says the spot in­spec­tions and re­ports by child and fam­ily agency Tusla are there to help and sup­port them, not to trick them.

Danielle Kelly, who man­ages Lit­tle Har­vard Crèche and Montes­sori on Up­per Dar­gle Road in Bray, Co Wick­low, uses the in­spec­tion re­ports as a “work­ing doc­u­ment” and be­lieves it’s all a pos­i­tive process.

“The aim is to get 100pc com­pli­ance, that’s what every child­care ser­vices man­ager wants – but some­times you don’t get that,” Ms Kelly told the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent. “Un­for­tu­nately things can hap­pen, even on the day of the spot in­spec­tions, and we have to say to our team ‘it hap­pened, we know it shouldn’t have and we know for fu­ture ref­er­ence’.”

The crèche and Montes­sori, which caters for 82 pre-school chil­dren be­ing su­per­vised by 12 staff mem­bers, was in­spected on Fe­bru­ary 24, 2016. The in­spec­tion found there was a gap of 18cm un­der the bound- ary fence at the rear of the area where a pre-school child could pass through. Ac­cord­ing to Ms Kelly, this has now been rec­ti­fied.

Also on the day there was a door miss­ing on a toy car, which re­vealed an area of sharp plas­tic ma­te­rial that could cause an in­jury to a child. A lock-on gate into a sec­ond play area was also loose, and vents in the chil­dren’s bath­rooms were not work­ing.

The re­port stated “14 chil­dren un­der two were ob­served to sleep on sleep mats in the play­room and there was no blind pro­vided on the win­dow to darken the room”.

“When we get the re­port, I carry it with me for a cou­ple of weeks af­ter­wards and go through it from the start to the end. Ob­vi­ously there are things that need to get done straight away – for ex­am­ple, the bro­ken car was re­moved on the day of the in­spec­tion. Then there’s other things we can only rec­tify when we get the re­port such as get­ting the fans fixed,” Ms Kelly said.

She said it is of­ten dif­fi­cult to meet some of the reg­u­la­tions, giv­ing the sleep sit­u­a­tion as an ex­am­ple.

“Some­times a child un­der the age of two might not like to be in a cot, and from Tusla’s rec­om­men­da­tions they have to be in a cot. We would get a child who sleeps in a bed at home and we have to re-train them to be in a cot while at the crèche. There are some things that are dif­fi­cult to get com­pletely right, but the in­spec­tions are not there to trick us, they are there to help and sup­port us,” she said.

De­spite be­ing ner­vous when the spot in­spec­tions take place, Ms Kelly says it’s a pos­i­tive process.

“When the in­spec­tors come in it is nerve-wrack­ing as they are there to au­dit us, to look at our staff and check we are do­ing ev­ery­thing cor­rectly. Where there’s some­one new in the room the chil­dren act dif­fer­ently and staff may be on edge, so it’s not an easy process,” she said.

“We will get our next in­spec­tion soon, so hope­fully the up­dated re­port will show we have rec­ti­fied ev­ery­thing in the pre­vi­ous re­port.”

As­sis­tant man­ager Karen Dor­rian and man­ager Danielle Kelly. Photo: Garry O’Neill

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