Unsecured blind chords, no hot water and safety breaches found by inspectors in childcare facilities
Many childcare facilities around the country are still failing to meet proper standards - despite the horrors uncovered in RTÉ's 2013 'Breach of Trust' programme.
Official inspections of preschool childcare facilities, conducted by the child and family agency Tusla, has revealed breaches in health and safety, and risks posed to young children at many of the centres.
The breaches include window blind cords not being secured to walls, posing a potential strangulation risk; some facilities with no hot water; children's hands not being washed prior to meals; nappy changing mats torn and not cleaned properly after each change; and cleaning solutions being stored on window sills.
At one childcare facility the gate from the garden area was unsecured, and an infection control policy within exclusion periods for infectious diseases was not in place.
Inspectors observed cleaning agents being stored on the floor in a staff toilet, which was accessible to preschool children, and posed a potential risk of poisoning.
At another facility, dishwasher detergent capsules were accessible to children in a drawer in one of the rooms.
Following painting before lunchtime at another facility, a staff member was observed carrying in a plastic basin of water, and the children were using it as a communal hand basin to wash their hands in.
Drinking water was not freely available, and baby bottles containing drinks from home were not individually labelled at another facility.
The sleeping arrangements of children under the age of two were found to be inadequate in a number of facilities, with children being put to sleep on sleep mats instead of in standard cots. In one particular facility, the inspector noted on return from outdoor play, a child from the baby room was placed in a cot with coat and shoes left on.
The hood of the coat was on the child's head, and a fleece blanket was placed over the child at waist level.
The report noted fleece blankets must not be used for a sleeping child under the age of two, as air cannot circulate.
In another childcare provider, the inspector also discovered that a fire door was secured and tied with a cloth, to prevent children exiting through it from the toddler room, and a slide in the outdoor area was not secured and anchored to the ground.
A young child was also left alone and unattended on a nappy changing unit, while a crèche employee placed a soiled nappy in a bin opposite the nappy changing area, a Tusla inspector has reported.
Another employee was observed placing a large amount of talcum powder on each child while changing nappies, which, if inhaled by a child, can cause breathing trouble and lung damage.
The inspectors' report also noted employees were not familiar with the children, and when questioned about a child's care needs, one employee advised the inspector she did not know.