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HSE: 'Creche breached child-adult ratio - we marked it compliant by accident'

An inspection report handed to parents whose children attend a Dublin creche identified breaches of child-adult ratios yet marked the facility compliant. The HSE said this was an “administrative error”.

THIS IS A Health Service Executive inspection report which identifies breaches of child-adult ratio regulations at a Dublin creche, yet deems the facility compliant.

The HSE has said that the ‘compliant’ box was “wrongly ticked” but this report was distributed to parents who have children in the creche on the day after the broadcasting of Prime Time’s ‘A Breach of Trust’ programme.

One parent said that marking the creche as being compliant was “mind boggling” and “very disturbing” given the issues identified in the non-compliance section of the report. But the HSE said it was an “administrative error”.

The inspection report is for the Links Childcare facility in Portmarnock, north Dublin and details regulation breaches identified during an inspection carried out last October. Links did not comment for this story.

The report says “that the correct adult/child ratios is (sic) not always maintained”. The inspectors found that in one case records showed 10 to 12 children – aged 2 1/2 to 3 years – with just one staff member. On another occasion, there were 10 children present with one staff member.

The report recommends that ratios for children aged 2 to 3 years attending full day care be 1:6. “The correct child ratios must be adhered to,” the report states.

In a statement, the HSE said: “A review of the Inspection Outcome Report has found that non-compliance issues under Regulation 8 Management and Staffing identified in the Inspection were correctly documented and the appropriate corrective action detailed in the Report.

“However this review has found that there was an administrative error in the Report in which the Regulation 8 Compliant box was wrongly ticked. The Non Compliant box should have been ticked.”

The parent, who did not wish to be named, told TheJournal.ie that the ratios have improved since the airing of the landmark Prime Time programme last month.

“The ratios have been a lot better since the report,” the parent said. “The ratios were 10 and 12 to 1, which we had observed a few times and we were concerned about. We just mentioned it to the carers in the room, they seemed like their hands full.”

Links Childcare’s Abington facility was featured in the Prime Time programme and a number of issues were highlighted including the frequent breaching of child-adult ratios and the fabrication of records about children’s activities.

In a statement made after the programme aired, the company said it “deeply regrets” the distress caused by the Prime Time programme and pledged to “repair the loss of trust that is inevitable as a result of what has happened”.  As part of this they announced plans to re-train staff and to provide real-time CCTV online coverage for parents.

When contacted this week, a Links spokesperson said: “Links Childcare has issued a number of public statements on this matter and has no further comment to add.”

Read: Crèche inspection reports to be put online from next month

Read: In letter to parents, creche ‘does not accept general thrust’ of RTÉ footage

More: Did you miss the Prime Time creche expose? Here’s what happened

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Hugh O'Connell

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