Today I discovered that Tulsa (the Irish Child and Family Agency) have announced that lidded beakers are no longer allowed for children once they reach the age of 12 months. Any service found to be offering lidded beakers to toddlers aged one and up will be found to be non-compliant. My first thought was – seriously?? With all the issues facing the childcare sector and childcare professionals Tulsa is choosing to focus on this? What’s next? Services will be considered non-compliant for offering bibs to one year olds? This is ignorance at it’s very best! Let’s ignore the real problems here and get rid of those dangerous lidded beakers. Obviously these are having such a detrimental effect on children’s development!
To my mind what is having a worse effect on children’s development is having inspectors who are blind to the real problems faced by childcare staff. The staff who work in these services are under-paid, under-resourced and under-valued. Yet, everyday, they don their uniforms and do their very best for the children in their care. They put themselves under enormous pressure creating exciting yet educational curriculums, introducing new activities and teaching children basic social skills like toilet-training and making friends. They do so much more than their job descriptions would have us believe. Why exactly are Tulsa focusing on lidded beakers while ignoring the very real problems of staff?
Perhaps because they are not really bothered to find a solution? Childcare staff do not have a strong powerful union like Siptu in their corner so their problems can easily be overlooked without too much uproar. Parents are struggling to find money to pay for childcare but staff are struggling to survive on the low wages they are paid. This cannot be allowed to continue. I fear, though, until a strong union of childcare workers is formed things will remain much the same and Tulsa will continue to care more about beakers than staff.
On a less serious but no less important note it is surely parents who decide what type of beaker they want their child to drink from. It is not Tulsa’s place to tell us what type of cup our child should be using. As the parent of a wobbly toddler I would not approve of her using a lidless beaker – my laundry hamper is full enough than you very much! If a Tulsa inspector would like to do my extra laundry for me work away but this announcement has made me very grateful my daughter is attending a childminder once a week and not a crèche. I can only hope parents who do have children in creches do not feel obligated or forced to comply with this ridiculous new rule.