Dublin crèche owner to 'take no future role in front line childcare provision' after RTÉ investigation

Dublin crèche owner to 'take no future role in front line childcare provision' after RTÉ investigation
Anne Davy pictured leaving the Dublin District Court in 2005. Picture: Garrett White/Collins

A crèche owner in Dublin is to is to take no future role in front line childcare provision following a documentary which will air tonight.

One of the owners of the Hyde & Seek Childcare crèche chain is to take no future role in front line childcare provision as a result of findings to be revealed in an RTÉ Investigates documentary.

Recently RTÉ Investigates was contacted by several families who were concerned about the standards of care their children had received while at various Hyde & Seek Childcare crèches.

Hyde & Seek Childcare is a family run business owned and run by Anne and Peter Davy and their daughter Siobhan Davy.

The company has four creches across Dublin City catering for children from three months up to 12 years of age.

RTÉ Investigates had two undercover researchers successfully apply for childcare positions with the Hyde & Seek company. Both researchers had the required qualifications, are highly trained and were Garda vetted by RTÉ.

While RTÉ witnessed some examples of good care, it wasn’t long before the RTÉ undercover workers started to observe repeated breaches of regulation.

Some of those issues observed include 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, but this did not happen.

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

It was also at this branch on Tolka Road where RTÉ also observed frequent and significant breaches of strict adult to child ratios which crèches must adhere to so that staff can look after children in their care.

On 75% of the days the RTÉ undercover researcher worked in the Tolka Road branch room ratios were in breach of regulations – sometimes they were minor but more often they were serious breaches.

On a number of occasions this meant up to 20 children were left with one care worker for hour periods at a time.

Significantly the poor practises RTÉ witnessed were not performed by care staff but by Hyde & Seek owner Anne Davy herself. That included how she interacted with and handled children.

Dublin crèche owner to 'take no future role in front line childcare provision' after RTÉ investigation

RTÉ has reported its concerns to both Tusla and Dublin Fire Brigade and continues to liaise with both bodies.

In a statement to RTÉ, Hyde & Seek Childcare said it has been operating crèches for over 15 years and strives to provide a top quality child-centred service.

However, having been made aware of RTÉ's findings, the company has confirmed that Anne Davy is stepping down and “will take no future role in front line childcare provision.”

In a statement she 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.”

Anne Davy added that she “very much regrets this.”

RTÉ has also learned last year the company opened a new, purpose built facility in Glasnevin but failed to register it appropriately. The crèche opened in January 2018 but unknown to parents it went unregistered for some 14 months.

Dublin crèche owner to 'take no future role in front line childcare provision' after RTÉ investigation

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

However, the crèche continued to operate without registration – meaning it was not subject to regulatory inspections and checks.

Earlier this year, at the Dublin District Court, Hyde & Seek pleaded guilty to the non-registration and was given the benefit of the probation act. The crèche was eventually registered on March 1, 2019.

Back in 2004 company owner Anne Davy was prosecuted and convicted when staff from their Tolka Road branch left behind a three-year-old boy on his own at a local playground, she was also convicted for a number of other regulatory breaches of regulations.

Three years later in 2007 she was convicted again for breaching regulations including child to adult ratios and failing to keep records. During these years the company changed name three times.

Tusla inspection reports for the various Hyde & Seek crèches also identify numerous non compliances.

RTÉ Investigates – Creches, Behind Closed Doors airs tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.

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