Creche scandal

Issues of non-compliance found at fourth Hyde & Seek creche not featured in documentary

The Drumcondra creche was not covered on this week’s RTÉ documentary.


INSPECTORS AT A fourth creche Hyde & Seek creche in Dublin discovered similar issues to those revealed at three facilities at the centre of this week’s RTÉ investigation.

A Tusla inspection at a creche on Millbourne Avenue in Drumcondra in September 2017 found more employees working for the company without qualifications, inadequate insurance cover and insufficient space for the number of children attending the facility.

During the visit, a number of infants were also left to sleep on mats and a kitchen door leading to accessible toxic cleaning equipment was left open.

The findings align with revelations made at three other Hyde & Seek creches during an RTÉ Investigates documentary which aired on Wednesday night, which prompted Anne Davy, the owner of the chain, to step down from her duties with the company.

Accounts seen by show that Hyde & Seek Childcare Limited made over €2.7 million in profit in its last five financial years, and that it had net assets worth more than €2.6 million at the end of last year.

The company has acquired a property to open a fifth creche in the capital, but Tusla inspection reports reveal how Hyde & Seek has frequently breached minimum standards set out by the Child and Family Agency.

Relevant inspection reports of the creches featured on the RTÉ documentary noted, among other things, a loose blind cord, faecal matter on mattresses and medicine administered to a child without evidence of parental consent.

Footage filmed by RTÉ also raised issues found in the inspection reports, including a lack of training and garda vetting among staff and concerns about fire safety.

Now can reveal the issues discovered at a fourth facility run by the company.

No qualifications or insurance

The Hyde & Seek creche at Millbourne Avenue first opened in 2012, with permission granted for 29 childcare spaces at a facility that was previously home to the Drumcondra Credit Union.

It was later registered with Tusla to cater for a maximum of 33 children, but on the morning of the agency’s inspection in September 2017, inspectors found 37 children present, although this reduced to 27 children by the afternoon.

H&S Drumcondra Hyde & Seek's creche in Drumcondra did not feature in RTÉ's documentary into the business Google Street View Google Street View

In its report, Tusla’s inspectors said the number of children in the facility meant the creche had inadequate insurance, before more up-to-date insurance for 40 children was obtained in October 2017.

As with revelations in this week’s RTÉ documentary, three staff members were found not to have the certification needed to work in the creche, particularly a minimum Level 5 qualification in Early Childhood Care and Education or its equivalent.

A follow-up report from Tusla in June 2018 noted that the non-qualification of staff at the creche had still not been dealt with almost a year later, although the agency subsequently noted that it was satisfied that the facility had become compliant.

However, the agency also discovered a number of other issues present on the day of the inspection.

Notably, it said that some forms for administering medication were left incomplete and lacked a second staff signature, while the creche was also found to lack policies to prevent accidents and incidents.

Both issues of non-compliance were subsequently addressed to the satisfaction of Tusla.

Sleeping on floor mats

Meanwhile, the creche was found to be non-compliant under Regulation 20, covering its facilities for rest and play, after inspectors found there were no cots available for nine children under the age of 2.

Instead, these children were left to sleep on floor mats, a breach of Tusla’s health and safety regulations.

The cots were later purchased, to the satisfaction of Tusla, but the agency said it was not satisfied that the situation had been fully rectified from a health and safety point of view.

Elsewhere, inspectors found a possible source of infection on a communal hand towel which was used to dry children’s hands in the toilets and nappy-changing area.

Adults were also found not to wash their hands before nappy-changing, and children were not washed afterwards. The same gloves were used by adults to change the nappies of different children, while Tusla said the changing mat was cleaned inappropriately.

More health and safety issues were discovered when a kitchen door was seen propped open throughout the inspection, with a press containing toxic cleaning equipment left unsecured and accessible to children attending the creche.

Hyde & Seek moved to rectify these problems by installing a hand dryer, changing its nappy-changing procedures, and removing a doorstop from the kitchen.

Account details can also reveal details of Hyde & Seek’s accounts and how it amassed profits of almost €3 million in five years.

The company operates as three separate entities: Hyde & Seek Childcare Limited; Hyde & Seek Glasnevin Limited; and Hyde & Seek (Prospect) Limited.

The parent company, Hyde & Seek Childcare, is directed by husband and wife Anne and Peter Davey, who have an address at Lindsay Road in Glasnevin.

RTE Investigates - Hyde and Seek Creche Glasnevin External 2 The Hyde and Seek Creche in Glasnevin RTÉ RTÉ

Accounts show that the couple were owed a collective remuneration of €223,864 between 2014 and 2018, when the company made a €2.7 million profit, including:

  • €268,424 in 2014
  • €394,380 in 2015
  • €497,584 in 2016
  • €806,477 in 2017
  • €766,917 in 2018

The company had net assets of almost €3 million at the end of 2018, when it also owed Anne Davy €107,360 arising from a loan provided by her.

Davy is also listed as a company director, alongside her daughter Siobhan, of Hyde & Seek Glasnevin, a subsidiary of Hyde & Seek Childcare.

It made a profit of €238,225 last year, following losses of €36,556 and €21,828 in 2016 and 2017 respectively, with €47,115 remunerable to Ann and Siobhan Davy.

Company accounts for Hyde & Seek (Prospect), where Siobhan Davy is the sole director, have yet to be filed as the company is less than one year old.

Earlier this year, Anne Davy was read the Probation Act after Hyde & Seek Childcare pleaded guilty in court to not registering its new creche in Glasnevin with Tusla, despite operating it for 14 months.

In 2005, she was also fined €1,200 at Dublin District Court after being found guilty of failing to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of a three-year-old boy in her care, whom she left behind in Fairview Park during a creche outing on 30 July 2004.

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