Monday 27 January 2020

Creche worker shouted at gagging boy

The Giraffe Childcare and Early learning Centre, Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin
The Giraffe Childcare and Early learning Centre, Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin
Giraffe Ccreche in Stepaside
Links Childcare in Malahide, Dublin.

Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

SHOCKING footage showing a child gagging while being shouted at by a creche worker has been revealed in a television expose.

The distressing incident was filmed by an undercover researcher hired as a childcare worker at the Giraffe creche in Belarmine, in Stepaside, in south Dublin.

The creche was one of three childcare facilities which was secretly filmed during a probe by RTE’s Investigations Unit and aired tonight.

The other two creches which were part of the probe are the Links in Malahide in north Dublin and Little Harvard in Rathnew, Co Wicklow.

The programme showed some children left strapped in small chairs for hours in the Giraffe creche with one youngster left facing a fridge.

It also showed:

* Diaries given to parents about their children’s days were fabricated.

* The allergy list for children was a year out of a date.

* Ongoing problems were documented in the creche’s last six inspection reports.

Management at the creche have has already acknowledged the failings and apologised to the parents and children involved.

Three-quarters of all creches are breaching mandatory standards of good practice aimed at protecting the welfare of young children.

And the childcare providers are dictating the standards, although they are subject to inspection to prove they are complying with regulations.

The allegations have been made in an RTE ‘Prime Time’ special aired tonight which investigated the care of children in three creches in Dublin and Wicklow.

However, reports obtained by the programme found cases of poor practice are widespread amid warnings in an internal Health Service Executive (HSE) document about weaknesses in the monitoring of the facilities.

The footage from the Links creche in Malahide showed children being cursed at, grabbed and slammed into their seats by staff. One child was thrown or dropped on to a mat during sleep time while a child who would not go to sleep had his mattress taken away.

The secret film at Little Harvard creche showed children were left in high chairs for hours. And staff were seen talking on their phones when they should have been supervising children.

The creches involved were given access to the footage in advance of the broadcast but only saw the full programme for the first time tonight.

The programme claimed that three out of four creches are breaching regulations. An internal HSE document also claimed that childcare providers are “dictating standards” although they are subject to mandatory levels of practice.

The Giraffe creche announced last week that it had suspended three staff pending its own internal investigation. Management said some of the allegations made were “over-sensationalised and lacking in proof”.

An investigation has also been undertaken at Little Harvard creche in Rathnew, Co Wicklow, with the company saying it was “deeply concerned” the footage was focusing on “isolated incidents” and did not show the “care and love” provided by its carers.

Links Childcare in Malahide, which suspended three employees and dismissed one employee, told parents that it deeply regretted the incidents.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald briefed the cabinet about the issue of creches ahead of the broadcast of the RTE ‘Prime Time’ investigation. She held a meeting with Annie Callaghan, the head of quality assurance with the HSE division in charge of creches.

A Government spokesman said that Ms Fitzgerald and the rest of the cabinet had not seen the ‘Prime Time’ footage filmed in creches. He said she would be responding to the programme today after viewing it.

Early Childhood Ireland – the representative group for 3,330 preschool, full daycare and afterschool providers caring for over 100,000 children – said the majority of facilities were dedicated and hardworking.

The HSE said any parent who has a complaint should contact their local inspector's office which is listed on its website.

It should ask for a copy of their childcare facility's inspection report.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News