Little girl missing for an hour before childcare staff noticed
A LITTLE girl was trapped behind a fire door for almost an hour after childcare workers failed to realise she had gone missing.
HSE investigation reports show the child was stuck behind the door at Nurture in Blackrock, Co Cork, which led to a complaint from her parents in October last year.
Company director Eadaoin Glynn last night said the incident occurred as children were being taken from a sensory room to lunch.
Two staff members were later suspended. The creche completed its investigation in advance of a complaint to the HSE, and the child remained at Nurture as her parents were happy with the company's response.
"Obviously it shouldn't have happened and we were very apologetic," Mr Glynn said. "The parents said they were happy with the procedures followed, and the child is still in Nurture."
Meanwhile, the reports also showed that a company at the centre of the recent childcare scandal was taken to court and ordered to make a charitable donation for repeated breaches of childcare regulations.
Giraffe Childcare, which was one of three creches exposed by RTE for mistreating children, was brought to court in September 2011 following "continuous breaches" of regulations at its Celbridge, Co Kildare, branch.
HSE inspection reports show that concerns about sleeping arrangements and staffing ratios were first raised in August and November 2010, but that the matters were not resolved when an inspection was carried out in January 2011.
"A number of matters continue to remain outstanding since your inspections," the HSE file said.
"Our concerns have been discussed with senior management in the HSE.
"We have recommended the instigation of legal proceedings against you for continuous breaches of the regulations."
The case was heard in the District Court in September 2011, Giraffe said last night. The company said the case involved a "smaller number" of breaches – and that the judge applied the Probation Act, ordering that a charitable donation of €500 be made to the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin.
The HSE files also revealed repeated breaches of regulations in the three creches at the heart of the childcare controversy – Giraffe, Links and Little Harvard.
The reports also showed there were difficulties in IKEA's creche in Dublin, where the lack of a laundry facilities meant staff were washing soft furnishings and dress-up outfits in their homes.
Other concerns included garda vetting not being available for three staff, hot water was not available in a sink in the child toilet and no infection-control policy
"We have very high standards for our Smaland creche," an IKEA spokesman said.
"Following the inspection in 2011 by HSE, we can confirm that all concerns highlighted to us in their report have been addressed."
Meanwhile, a number of creches named in the Irish Independent yesterday as breaching regulations have clarified that the issues raised in the HSE inspection reports have been rectified. A spokesperson for the Hope Montessori in Phibblestown, Dublin 15, said all the issues identified in the report had been addressed.
The Nourrice creche and Montessori school in Wexford said the information regarding a lack of first-aid qualifications was incorrect.
On the day of the inspection, seven staff members had valid first aid certificates, a spokeswoman said.
A letter from the HSE, seen by this newspaper, confirmed that the creche is fully compliant with the regulations.
- Paul Melia