The instances of neglect and maltreatment and the facts around the shoddy inspection regime that current exists are now well documented in the press and media.
However discussion around the response required to prevent this happening again is completely one sided in the sense that the fact needs to be recognised that we have for the best part a lucrative for-profit expensive system of childcare lends itself to inadequate staffing and resources to ensure children are properly looked after and assisted in their development.
The system we have is a legacy of the previous boom where double income households and long commuting created an unprecedented demand for childcare that the previous government left the to the privateers to satisfy but at an enormous cost to low and middle income families. The is a reason why childcare in Ireland has been referred to as a ‘second mortgage’. The government subsidies provided to assist parents meeting the cost of the most expensive childcare in Western Europe while undoubtedly welcomed by parents in reality served to subsidise the massive profits of these operations some of which at least we now know skimp on staffing and resources.
Rather than simply promising a more thorough and rigorous system of inspections by the HSE which of course has to be delivered upon a more profound debate is now needed about the need to eliminate profit from our system of childcare altogether by means of replacing what we have with a comprehensive publicly funded system of childcare and early years education.