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Child expert's alarm at undercover creche film

POOR practices at creches could affect the development of children, an expert has warned.

POOR practices at creches could affect the development of children, an expert has warned.

Professor Noirin Hayes, a child development expert who has viewed footage secretly filmed at three creches, has described what she saw in the footage as "worrying".

Two of the creches in Dublin, Giraffe childcare in Stepaside and Links in Malahide are being investigated by both the gardai and the HSE.

A third creche – Little Harvard in Rathnew, Co Wicklow – is being investigated by the HSE, but not by gardai.

Footage secretly filmed by an undercover reporter at the creches are the subject of an RTE Prime Time investigation.

Prof Hayes, a developmental psychologist based at Dublin Institute of Technology, said the poor practices at the three creches could impact on both the emotional and physical development of the children.

"A worrying factor is that young children in these early years, and we are talking about one to four years of age, are at a stage in their emotional development when they are learning about their place in the world. I felt, from the film I saw, that they were experiencing an unwelcoming environment and would be getting messages about themselves because of the treatment. The children would get the message that they were troublesome, and being a bother and being bold," she said.

"There were incidents of shouting. I felt an absence of kindness, an absence of affection for the children. It was quite a harsh style of management and that would be true across all three creches.

"That did worry me hugely," Professor Hayes said.



Speaking about specific video footage which showed children being unnecessarily strapped into chairs at Giraffe childcare in Stepaside, she said: "Young children being strapped into chairs for long periods of time is wrong during the part of their life when their main purpose is to learn how to walk, how to stand, how to run, how to be physically active and through that to develop their motor skills.

"It was shocking at one level and sad at another level. It was very worrying children are experiencing the type of behaviour management and the absence of stimulation that I witnessed."

Management of Giraffe Childcare said they have made substantial changes. Giraffe, have implemented a comprehensive plan of action in response to the revelations, which included the footage of young children abruptly handled while they were napping.

Little Harvard said it will continue "to carry out a full investigation into the isolated incidents and review all options.

Links Childcare, which has dismissed one member of staff, and suspended three others, said it was carrying out an investigation.

The programme is expected to be broadcast this week.