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Saturday 30 August 2014

Two toddlers walk out of TV probe creche

Louise Hogan

Published 24/07/2013 | 05:00

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23/05/13 The Giraffe Childcare and Early learning Centre, Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin pictured this afternoon.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
The Giraffe creche in Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin

A PROBE is under way after two toddlers wandered out of one of the creches at the centre of a TV investigation into alleged mistreatment of children.

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The incident occurred yesterday at Giraffe in Belarmine, Stepaside, south Dublin, which was one of three childcare centres that featured in an RTE 'Prime Time' probe in May.

The two children left the premises by themselves during a visit by an animal handler who had brought a visiting farm to the creche.

Management at the Giraffe creche in Stepaside last night admitted that two toddlers had exited the premises through a gate which had been left open.

The young children were found on a grass patch outside the creche. One of the Giraffe care workers had noticed that they were missing and found them along with a local resident, according to a statement from the creche.

It is unclear how long the children were off the premises for but it is believed to have been a short time.

The creche said it had the correct staff ratio in operation at the time and that it had launched a full investigation, which would be the normal procedure in such instances.

In the aftermath of the RTE 'Prime Time' probe, management at Giraffe in Belarmine had promised to introduce a number of measures to raise standards, including the installation of cameras across its 21 centres. The promises followed meetings with concerned parents.

The creche has informed parents they will only be able to view the footage from the newly installed CCTV cameras after it has first been viewed by management.

In a letter circulated to parents last week, the director of childcare, Dolores O'Donnell, stated that a full-time staff member would be taken on specifically to monitor CCTV footage.

However, she stressed that parents would only be allowed to watch video recordings in "appropriate circumstances".

MISSING

"We are required by law to balance the wish to be able to make footage available to parents on request with data-protection requirements and the general right to privacy of those appearing in the footage," she said in the letter to parents.

The Stepaside creche was one of three – alongside the Little Harvard creche in Rathnew, Co Wicklow, and the Links creche in Malahide, Co Dublin – that featured in undercover footage shown on the 'Prime Time' programme. All three insisted in the immediate aftermath that they were taking steps to improve childcare.

After the programme had aired, management at the Giraffe creche in Stepaside said they were "profoundly sorry" for the distress caused.

Irish Independent

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