OFFICIALS from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, are due before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs on Wednesday to discuss the RTÉ Investigates report on childcare facilities. Officials from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will also be in the hot seat.
The pity of it is that they will not be joined by the owners of the Hyde and Seek childcare creche chain that has four premises in Dublin. In a statement after the programme aired, they said: “We strive always to provide the highest quality of childcare and to give children a happy safe place in which they can develop and play.”
Try telling that to the parents of the children or to the committee chairman, Alan Farrell, who described the treatment of babies, the disregard for fire safety regulations, and the disregard for the child-to-adult ratios shown in the documentary as “horrifying”.
While it is the owners and managers of the childcare service who bear the prime responsibility for the ill-treatment witnessed, Tusla and the department have a lot to answer for. Tusla failed to identify matters of concern at the creche during regulatory inspection. At the same time, the owners operated one of its highly profitable facilities for 14 months without a proper licence, while in receipt of €1.25m of taxpayers’ money. Department officials should have picked up on that.