More than 150 early childhood providers attended a meeting hosted by the Donegal Child Care Network in Letterkenny to voice their concerns over what they is the “senseless situation” they find themselves in relating to Garda Vetting.
The Donegal Child Care Network (DCCN) is a representative body made up of both privately and community managed early childhood services across County Donegal.
The current problem relates specifically to Garda Vetting for students on early education and health and social care training programmes.
Currently, training organisations process all GV forms for students. Following communication with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, Donegal training organisations have been informed that they cannot, under the Data Protection legislation, share this with a third party – in this case the childcare service.
However, childcare providers who do not have a copy of the full Garda Vetting disclosure form on file for any students on their premises are being deemed non-compliant as per the Child Care Pre-School Services Regulations from January 2014.
Childcare providers at the meeting voiced their concern over the insurance implications for early childhood providers in that, if a service is deemed non compliant in Garda Vetting, in the event of a child protection issue arising in a service – a pre recorded non-compliance in this area creates an insurance loophole.
Pre-School Inspection Services have confirmed that there is a clash between 2 pieces of legislation in this instance – Data Protection Legislation and Pre-School Inspection Legislation.
They also confirmed that this issue has been in discussion between the Child and Family Agency (previously HSE), the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Data Protection Commissioner for the past 18 months. During this time they have failed to reach a resolution and childcare providers are now at the cold face of the problem.
Avril McMonagle, County Childcare Manager was invited by the DCCN to speak at the meeting and advised childcare services of the correct documentation they had to have on file to avoid a judgement of non-compliance during an inspection.
She further advised that the most likely solution in the long term was that all Garda Vetting would be processed directly by the childcare service going forward but this would not solve the immediate bureaucracy chaos due to an existing backlog in Garda Vetting processing times.
Currently there are an estimated 500 students requiring placement across a variety of training courses.
Gillian Lowry for DCCN said ‘Childcare providers feel they are being put under pressure to accept student placements to solve a problem that wasn’t of our making and we are urgently calling on the appropriate agencies to resolve the situation immediately’.