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