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In letter to parents, creche 'does not accept general thrust' of RTÉ footage

Little Harvard has defended itself in a letter sent home with children who attend its five creches this week in the wake of the ‘A Breach of Trust’ programme.

The first page of the letter Little Harvard distributed to parents this week
The first page of the letter Little Harvard distributed to parents this week
Image: TheJournal.ie reader

ONE OF THE childcare companies at the centre of RTÉ’s ‘A Breach of Trust’ programme on the mistreatment of children in Irish creches has strongly defended itself in a letter to parents.

The letter, seen by TheJournal.ie, was sent home with children who attend the five branches of Little Harvard whose Rathnew branch was the subject of a number of allegations in the Prime Time programme.

The company said yesterday that it stands by the letter but admitted that “a few” parents have been upset by both the programme itself and the letter with “one or two” indicating they are considering taking their children out of the creche.

The programme showed footage of staff at the Rathnew branch in Co Wicklow using their mobile phones while minding children, children being left in highchairs for long periods and children locked in rooms without supervision.

The letter, dated 27 May, was sent home with children who attend Little Harvard facilities on Tuesday – the day the programme was aired – and broadly defends the creche while acknowledging the unacceptable nature of some “isolated” incidents.

A parent who provided the letter to this website, but did not wish to be identified, said he was unhappy with his two-year-old son’s care at one of the Little Harvard branches and said that the letter “is exceptionally poor”.

“The letter was so appallingly written and more defensive than anything else, there is no acknowledgement of any of the issues,” he told TheJournal.ie saying the letter was the “final nail in the coffin” and he will be taking his son out of the creche which he had been attending two days a week.

The letter

In the letter, Little Harvard says it does not “believe there to be any particular reason that our creche in Rathnew was chosen save for the fact that it is part of a group and these seem to be the target of the program (sic) that RTE has put together.”

Little Harvard says it only got a chance to see the footage on the Friday before the programme aired “despite numerous requests to do so prior to this” and continues:

“We would like to point out at the outset that we don’t believe the approximately 8 minutes of footage, roughly 3 of which involve people employed by RTE to give ‘expert opinion’ of what they have seen, taken over a one month period, to in any way be a true reflection of the care, love and attention given by the staff in Rathnew to the children in their care.”

The letter goes on to acknowledge the actions of two staff “which we find unacceptable”, but adds:

“We do not accept the general thrust of the footage which in essence implies that sometimes there was a lack of loving care and attention, which RTÉ have refused to back up, despite numerous requests from us and parents alike.”

It does commit to undertaking a “full review of our policies and procedures” but says the incidents were “isolated in nature”.

It also apologises for “any distress and concern” caused and thanks the “numerous parents” who have told Little Harvard that media coverage is “at odds with their own experiences of the care and live their children receive”.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the company said: “Little Harvard stands by the view expressed in the letter to the parents. The footage shown does not reflect the commitment, love and care our staff provide the children every day of the week.

“Notwithstanding this the company is committed to making sure that the isolated incidents raised in the RTE programme are never repeated.”

It added that a full investigation is being carried out into the incidents that were broadcast.

“The management and staff at Little Harvard apologise to the parents and children at the crèche for the distress caused by these incidents,” a spokesperson added.

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

Read: Links Childcare plans CCTV streaming as it tries to ‘repair loss of trust’

More: Garda investigation into alleged child abuse following RTÉ documentary

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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