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Creche owner steps down following revelations in RTÉ investigation

Tusla inspection reports for the various Hyde and Seek creches also identified numerous non-compliance issues.

Children were being packed into sleep rooms, according to the documentary.
Children were being packed into sleep rooms, according to the documentary.

THE OWNER OF a chain of creches in Dublin has stepped down and will have no further involvement in frontline childcare provision following an RTÉ Investigates documentary. 

Anne Davy, owner of Hyde and Seek Childcare, a family run business with her husband Peter Davy and their daughter Sinead, has four creches across Dublin city, catering for children from 3 months up to 12 years. 

RTÉ spoke to concerned families, who raised issues about the standards of care in the creches and researchers, who were qualified and vetted, took up employment to investigate the allegations.

The investigation, to be aired on the RTÉ Investigates: Creches, Behind Closed Doors programme tonight, found that on occasions up to 20 children were being left with just one care worker for hours at a time.

The staff to child ratio varies depending on the age of the child according to national standards, but even for children in upper age brackets, the staff to child ratio is 1:8, far below the 1:20 ratio reported in the RTÉ documentary. 

Anne Davy was prosecuted and convicted in 2004 when staff at the Tolka Road branch left a 3-year-old boy on his own at a playground, and again in 2007, Davy was convicted for breaching regulations around child to adult ratios, and failing to keep records. 

One branch of the business, the Hyde and Seek creche in Glasnevin which opened in 2018 went unregistered for 14 months, according to the documentary.

For months after the creche opened there was an exchange of correspondence between the company and the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, with the agency requesting it complete its registration. 

It continued to operate without registration – meaning it was not subject to regulatory inspections and checks, and earlier this year at Dublin District Court, Hyde and Seek pleaded guilty to non-registration and given the benefit of the probation act. 

It was eventually registered on 1 March 2019. 

Tusla inspection reports for the various Hyde and Seek creches also identified numerous non-compliance issues.

Crèches and preschool facilities must abide by a lengthy list of regulations which have been designed to protect the welfare of children.

Some issues observed included the failure of Hyde & Seek management to ensure staff were garda-vetted before working with children. TUSLA regulations state that vetting must be completed before a staff member is allowed any access to children.

The programme highlights concerns around sleep room conditions at the company’s crèche on Tolka Road, where cots were packed so tightly together that workers found it difficult to provide appropriate care for children at nap times.

It was also at this branch on Tolka Road that investigators reported seeing frequent and significant breaches of ratios.

In a statement, Hyde and Seek Childcare said Anne Davy “will take no future role in the front line childcare provision” and acknowledged “that in recent months she has occasionally fallen below the standards of our behavioural management policy, and has found herself being short, rather than simply direct”. 

It said that “in recent days, we have had unannounced Tusla inspections and fire safety inspections at several of our premises and we do not believe any major issues will arise from them.

“We operate an open door policy and parents are free to visit our creches at any time. We are in ongoing contact with parents of children who use the services featured in [the] programme this week and expect to meet many of them in the coming days.”

The programme RTÉ Investigates: Creches, Behind Closed Doors will air on RTÉ One tonight at 9.35pm. 

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