x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Inspections lead to closure of four UAE nurseries

Twenty-eight warnings of violations such as causing harm to children and not maintaing nursery buildings were issued in first quarter of this year.

DUBAI // Four nurseries were shut and 16 received warnings from the Ministry of Social Affairs in the first quarter of this year.

The ministry gave 28 warnings for offences such as causing harm to children, not employing a nurse or failing to maintain the building. Some nurseries received multiple notices.

The ministry conducts regular inspections of nurseries across the country, as well as licensing inspections for new nurseries.

In the first quarter of this year, the ministry received 49 applications to open nurseries and granted licenses to 17 new programmes, bringing the number of nurseries to more than 380. Of those, 35 are government-operated and the rest are private.

In the same period, ministry inspectors made 107 visits to existing nurseries, resulting in the cancellation of four nursery licenses and the renewal of 90. Half of the 28 warnings involved nurseries in Dubai, while six were issued in Abu Dhabi and four in Sharjah.

The most common offences were causing harm or damage to children (five warnings), followed by advertising in newspapers (three warnings) and inadequate or insufficient toys (three warnings).

The ministry also received six complaints about nurseries from parents or others citing problems such as child neglect or misunderstandings between parents and staff. One person complained that carpenters had been working in a nursery while children were there.

Recently the Ministry of Social Affairs applied for permission from the Ministry of Finance to increase the licensing inspection fees charged to nurseries.

The main charge for opening a nursery is the Dh10,000 licensing fee, but inspectors were doing free repeat visits to nurseries that were moving to new buildings, even though a move requires a full inspection, said Moza Al Shoomi, head of the ministry’s child department.

“We go again and again and again to see new buildings,” she said. The ministry is suggesting a new fee that would charge Dh500 for re-inspection if a nursery moves to a new building or changes its local sponsor, which requires printing a new licence.

“We are waiting for the approval,” Ms Al Shoomi said.

vnereim@thenational.ae