Special investigation: creche complaints

KEPT IN PUSHCHAIR

* A mother complained that when she came to pick up her three-year-old daughter earlier than usual, one of the service operators said she would bring her daughter out. But the mother followed her in and found her daughter strapped tightly into pushchair by straps at top and bottom. The child was crying hysterically, sweating and had red patches on her face.

Mother asked the operator why her daughter was in a pushchair and the operator said she asked to be put in and when a child is upset, it calms her down. The mother felt is was not the first time the daughter was put in a pushchair and said her daughter never asks to be put in a pushchair. She removed her daughter from the creche.

* The HSE inspected the premises but did not tell the owner it was on foot of a complaint.

“There were a number of areas we felt we should bring to the proprietor’s attention,” inspectors said. They recommended that a policy be developed in relation to discipline procedures in the creche; that children under one not be left feeding themselves or let go to sleep with bottles or feeder cups and that it was best practice to hold small children when being bottle-fed.

Inspectors said small babies should have adequate space to move around and it was “not good practice to keep them in a bouncer”.

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DEPLORABLE CONDITION

* Mother complained that there was a staffing problem at a creche, with up to 12 babies being cared for by one person. Children were not being brought outside enough due to insufficient staff. Supervision at toilet time was insufficient meaning her child coming home with bottom not wiped properly.

* HSE inspector found proper records not in place. They also said it “was totally unacceptable” that the creche didn’t have enough toilets and wash hand basins. There was no hot water and the premises was generally “in a deplorable condition”.

There were no temperature controls in fridges, no child-proof latches on doors and the design of the stairway was not safe. The creche was ordered to address the issues as a matter of extreme urgency. It also emerged the children were only brought to the toilet at set times. The HSE inspection team was outraged and said “it should not be expected that young children will be ready or able to control their sphincters on a group schedule”.

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ASTHMA ATTACK

* A mother complained she had informed the creche her son had asthma and had left an inhaler at the creche with verbal instructions that it be given to him if he started coughing. However on one occasion when she went to collect her son, the girl looking after him told her he had been coughing a lot and when asked if she had given him his inhaler, she didn’t know anything about it.

The mother never signed a consent form for administration of the inhaler nor was she asked to, she said.

On another occasion her son had a temperature and when she came to collect him he was asleep in his buggy in the corner of the playroom and not in the sleep room. She was also aggrieved at being spoken to in the hallway about her son’s behaviour — pushing another child. When she spoke with staff about administering his inhaler, she said she was told she should advise them each day if he was to get it. She said staff had difficulty finding the inhaler when asked for it back.

* The complaint was investigated but no update was available on the outcome.

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CHILDREN IGNORED

* Complaint was made after a mother spent “most of the day” watching her children on the webcam. She saw that the creche workers engaged in “absolutely no interaction with the children”. She said they were “left to their own devices apart from meals and sleep time”. In short, she said “the children are ignored”. The parent claimed the list of activities on the door is “just for show”.

* The HSE visited the creche and said as the children were playing outside they “couldn’t access” interaction with staff. A meeting with the area manager was also arranged and the creche said it will investigate the complaint and take recommendations on board.

A second complaint at the same creche said it was overcrowded. HSE warned the creche to hire more staff and to ensure that creche workers are solely looking after children.

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TODDLER ESCAPED

* A mother complained after she found her toddler playing in her front garden when he should be at the creche. The mother saw her son in the garden at 4.35pm when he was supposed to be attending the creche until 5.30pm. In an astonishing letter, she wrote how the child had to cross a busy road and side road in a housing estate in order to get home. The mother went to the creche and said to the staff that her son “just came home by himself”. The staff member said: “No, no, he’s still here.” The mother said: “No, he’s at home, how did he get out?” They had no answers for her.

* In a follow-up investigation, the service providers took full blame and said they had hired a security consultant in to do an audit of the premises. The HSE asked for new locks on the internal doors and that staff accompany parents to the door when exiting. They also recommended that a chain be placed on the front door.

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GATED AREA

* The complainant’s son was attending the creche on a part-time basis for three weeks and she found him “generally unsettled”. Later she found out that there was a “gated area” being used as a “time out” area to discipline the kids and he was scared of it. She also noted that the children were “too quiet” and that it wasn’t “normal”. She also said she was concerned about the level of English of staff. She removed her child from the service.

* A follow-up visit took place and the creche manager said the woman usually collected her son at lunch time when staff were often relieving for lunch breaks.

“Also around this time the children are quiet and waiting for lunch,” they were told. As for the “gated area”, there is “one boy in the creche with special needs and he thinks of the gated area as his space and sometimes gets upset when the other children use it”.

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STAFF ‘AGGRESSION’

* Complaint about behaviour of management at creche. Child was put on “time out” for attempting to bite another child but staff member continued to stand over her “giving out” when she was on “time out”. Parent was also not happy about the “aggressive” way in which staff spoke to children.

* Premises was inspected but outcome unknown.

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BRUISING

* A mother complained after her son returned home with “an accident in his trousers”, according to creche staff. Later that evening, she found he had a massive bruise on his back. The following day the creche told her that he had scraped himself when getting off a wooden bench in the garden.

The parent questioned the level of supervision at the time and could not be provided with the incident book when she first asked for it. She later attended a GP and showed him her son’s bruise. He described it as 5.5 inches long and said he’d like to see a witness to the injury. The mother then said she’d like to remove the child from the creche for several weeks but she was told that she’d lose her place.

* The HSE met with staff and management and said they had covered all procedures properly. The HSE examined the bench and noted that it wasn’t particularly dangerous. They tried to make further contact with the parent but could not contact her.

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CHOKED ON FOOD

* A mother complained after her daughter, aged 16 months, attended the creche for less than a week. The mother was present at the creche during breakfast for the first week and saw some things that seriously concerned her. Staff turnover was high and in one incident, she alleged that a child started to choke on toast and a staff member remarked “that’s what you get when you shove too much toast in your face”. The woman said no comfort was offered to the child.

She said on another occasion she could see a distressed child in the sleep room. No staff member went to comfort him. She said she got conflicting reports from staff members about her child’s progress during the day and was never contacted even though she had requested to be told if her child wasn’t settling. When she would collect her, she was “visibly upset” each day.

* The HSE visited and found staff ratios in place and that the child was only in creche for four days. The manager said the toast incident had not happened as described and that proper procedures are in place to ensure welfare of children. The manager denied the other incidents had taken place.

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DIRTY UNDERWEAR

* Parent said her four-year-old daughter was removed from a creche due to a series of incidents, including arriving home on two occasions with dirty underwear and a sore bottom. It emerged staff had refused to wipe the child’s bottom.

The woman asked her daughter what happens when the babies had dirty bottoms and the child said they would stay smelly all day.

* The HSE spoke with the creche owner who said the child was well advanced for her age and should be able to clean herself after a trip to the toilet. They had shown her how to wipe herself but a second staff member had refused to continue wiping her. They denied she was left in the toilet for long periods and said it was a requirement that all children be fully toilet trained.

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PLAYGROUND FALL

* A two-year-old fell off a slide in a playground and fractured her upper left arm. The mother wasn’t informed about the accident but at collection, her daughter complained about pain in her arm and she was then told she fell in the playground. Four days later, the mother asked for a copy of the incident report and was told it was locked in the manager’s office.

The following day she got the report but it contained no details of the fall. Just three weeks earlier, she had spoken to the manager of the service about quality concerns she had. She said there were up to 24 children with sometimes only one staff member present. The mother felt the Montessori programme wasn’t being taught properly and the service was more like regular play-school.

* Full inspection was carried out by the HSE and the above issues were discussed. The mother removed the child from the creche.

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NOT ‘SETTLING’

* A distressed parent contacted the HSE after creche management left a message for her saying that she wanted to meet them. Their daughter was 11 months old at the time and attending the creche for three months. At the meeting, the parents were asked to remove their daughter from the creche as she was not “settling”; apparently crying a lot and distressing other babies and the staff.

They were given one month’s notice verbally and a letter. The parents said they were not made aware at any time that their daughter was in distress.

* At a follow-up inspection, the creche told the HSE that they could not provide adequate care as the child did not settle. However it became obvious that she did not keep the parents fully informed

According to the HSE report, it “was obvious during our discussion that the owner handled the situation badly”.

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LAX SECURITY

* A parent complained of lax security at the creche after she found her child left in a room on her own sitting on a mat. The front door was open at the time.

* An inspection team visited but the creche denied the child was left alone and said the front gate was open as they were collecting after-schoolers.

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SHOUTING

* Mother contacted HSE after her son complained he was being shouted at in creche. The parent alleged the owner said “we are shouting all the time” and asked the mother not to return her child to the creche. The mother said staff exhibited little patience.

* Preschool inspection team visited and owner admitted shouting sometimes takes place “as there were boisterous boys in the group and they needed to get their attention”. She admitted that she had to shout at the complainant’s child as he interrupted when others were talking. She said she shouted in exclamation not anger.

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FOOT AND MOUTH

* A mother complained about the levels of inspections at creche after learning that another child had been sent home with foot and mouth disease.

She said was she worried about this and anxious that her own house was contaminated. She said parents had not been informed about the outbreak. She added that there was no cleaner in the preschool.

* The HSE visited and found a child’s toy and art material stored in the nappy changing unit and in the children’s toilet. They also found there was no evidence of anti-bacterial spray in the nappy changing room.

Staff were advised to take a number of actions, including wall-mounted posters to remind adults to follow correct hand washing procedures and to ensure the children learn the need to do so. Paper towels were to be provided in the nappy changing room and a lid on the nappy bins.

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‘THESE THINGS HAPPEN’

* A parent contacted them stating she had left her six-year-old son and three-and-a-half-year-old daughter at the creche at 12.30pm. It was their first time in a creche.

She collected them at 1.30pm and “both appeared to be happy”. The mother said: “Later that night my son called me to his bedroom and said there was something he wanted to say to me. He said: “Mum, we don’t have secrets.” I replied: “That’s right.” He told his mother in the creche that day a boy looked at his bum. On questioning him further he said the boy pulled down his trousers and underpants. He told me this happened in the ball area. When asked if there were ladies there he said no.

The mother contacted the creche the following day and spoke to a staff member who said she’d get back to her.

She rang back a short time later having spoken with staff who said they didn’t see anything. She went on to say the creche was busy as it was mid-term but there were two staff on the floor and they were within ratio. “She also commented that sometimes, these things happen.”

The mother was upset the manager and not the proprietor responded to her complaint. She said she did not accept the comment that “sometimes these things happen”.

* The HSE contacted the director of the creche who wrote in response to the complaint:

“Having investigated the matter as thoroughly and as exhaustively as possible with my staff this week, I can only say the following: Your son was in the creche for one hour. We had three qualified staff on the whole time your son was with us. For my manager’s part and my part, I cannot bring this investigation any further as unfortunately for all concerned, it was not witnessed by anyone. I cannot accept something that no one saw happening. It is crucial for me to point out that if any such incident had been seen by a member of my staff, the offending child would have been removed from the creche immediately, as is our policy, and you would have been told immediately.”

An inspection team visited the premises. They found the adult/child ratio in compliance with preschool regulations at the time the incident was alleged to have taken place. Counselling was offered to the child.

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DECKING FALL

* A mother complained because she felt the service provider had not been proactive enough in inquiring after her daughter slipped on decking and fell at the premises on three separate occasions. The mother also complained the adult/child ratio was incorrect on one occasion.

According to the accident log, the child suffered a swollen cheek and bruised mouth on one occasion. The service provider said anti-slip mats were put in place after the incident. Another anti-slip mat was installed following a second incident and signs were put up to alert parents.

* The HSE investigated the complaint and were told by the service provider that after the third fall, parents had been written to inviting them to raise any concerns they may have. The service provider said there were plans to erect a fence around the decking and a handrail on the ramp exiting from the preschool. The service provider was advised to record all accidents in the accident book and to seek a parent’s signature for these.

She was also advised not to compromise her service by not adhering to the adult/child ratio. She had admitted to looking after an additional child on one occasion to facilitate the mother.

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CONSTANT BITING

* A mother complained her child was constantly being bitten by other children. She felt that nothing was being done to stop it. It emerged this one child was biting lots of children.

* When the HSE visited creche, the owner listed up to a dozen actions that she had taken to resolve the problem. This included ringing a child psychologist, parent support, speaking to parents, moving the child to another room and putting extra staff in the room so supervision was optimal. She had also given articles to the family on how to handle the situation at home.

The HSE said the creche had done everything possible to end the biting and recommended the child be assigned a key worker.

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UNREPORTED RASH

* Social workers were called to a creche after a mother complained that her child arrived home from the creche with soaking wet vests even though vests had been put in her changing bag.

Mother said she was not informed when her daughter’s supply of nappies was gone.

Her daughter developed a rash “all over her body”. She said the creche staff did not notice and did not inform the parents. After bringing her daughter to the doctor, she was told it was a viral infection.

The mother reported overhearing a staff member call her daughter “you little f**ker” while trying to put a bib on her. The mother reported it to the owner and another member of staff and was informed it was dealt with.

Towards the end of October, she brought her daughter to A&E after discovering a scabby red mark about the size of a 20c on her tummy. “Staff did not notice and did not inform us,” she said.

* The HSE preschool inspection team forwarded the complaint to the social work department because they felt the issues raised came within the remit of child protection.

As a result, the HSE principal social worker spoke to the mother who clarified that both sets of marks were viral or infections.

“There was no suggestion of her child having being physically abused,” the HSE principal social worker said. He said the mother was concerned that her daughter had skin rashes which the staff did not appear to notice.

“Her other concerns were principally around the hygiene in the creche, eg their walker, which she reported has been covered with old and congealed food; the creche not apparently using (or using insufficient) Sudocrem on her daughter when changing her.

“She also said that the blanket she left for her daughter was very smelly when she collected it. This might reflect on the hygiene and/or clear communication and responsibilities of the creche.”

The principal social worker said he noted that inspectors had visited the preschool and were satisfied with the observable levels of hygiene.

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HOTEL CLUB

* Parents complained that their child walked out of a supervised facility in a hotel and walked to the other side of the building.

The assistant manager visited their room later in the morning and acknowledged the seriousness of the incident. The parents requested a meeting with the manager and met with him. He apologised and admitted there was no accident/incident report written.

The parents felt he did not appreciate the gravity of the situation. They felt the club was being run by young women with no senior management. They said they were very uncomfortable and stayed around the hotel while the boys had their club time.

One evening when they went to collect their son they found him curled up in the corner out of sight. One of the staff said he had been kicked by a bigger boy. They thought he was just asleep in the corner. The child was sobbing uncontrollably when the parents brought him into their room.

He said the boy had slapped him, tried to take his chair and jumped on him and started hitting him when he didn’t do what he wanted. The parents went back to the club and sought an explanation. The staff said a 10-year-old boy had picked on him and tried to take his chair and started hitting and kicking him and had to be pulled off the child. The 10-year-old’s parents were phoned and asked to take him away and the younger boy went and lay down in a corner. Staff thought he wanted to sleep and let him settle there and did not phone the parents.

The parents subsequently sought a meeting with the hotel manager. They requested he arrange for an audit of childcare practices and procedures.

The parents were eventually contacted and told the hotel had taken on a qualified childcare person to take charge of the kids’ club but no audit had taken place. The parents contacted the HSE with their concerns.

* In response, the HSE wrote to the parents saying they were not in a position to inspect or enforce potential breaches in the context of non-notifiable services, which included kiddies’ clubs, and that no further action could be taken.

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LEFT AFTER SCHOOL

* A mother said her daughter was to be picked up by the creche after school, but she was left behind.

She was left “very distressed” outside the school for 20 minutes. She went to the school secretary who rang her father.

* The HSE could do nothing as after-school clubs are not regulated. They did however inform the social work department.

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TABLES FELL ON BOY

* Parent contacted preschool inspectorate after her child had to get stitches. According to the mother, tables at the creche were stacked on each other at home time. Her son tried to reach for a nearby toy and two tables fell on top of him. The “manager kind of laughed off” the incident and no explanation or apology were offered. The mother said the creche was still stacking tables like that. The children were removed from the creche.

* When the HSE investigated, they found an incident report written up and deemed that it had been “dealt with in an appropriate manner”. The creche also said tables had not been stacked on top of each other when the child fell against one.

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LANGUAGE BARRIER

* A parent complained that children were being left alone outside to play without any supervision. On another occasion, her daughter came home “in hysterics” about something and a foreign creche worker could not explain what happened due to a language barrier.

When she questioned outside supervision, she was told the children were being watched by CCTV.

She said she felt she “was laughed at” when she voiced her concerns. Has since removed the children from the creche.

* The HSE visited and voiced “serious concerns” about the standard of English of the staff. They warned the owner, who is based in Britain.

They said this could damage the children’s cognitive and language development. The owner wrote back and said he had since employed an Irish staff member and that the other staff were taking English lessons.

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BLOODY NOSE

* A mother said her child came home with dried blood on her nose. She asked what had happened but nobody knew. Eventually, they found out that she had “banged her face on a bar”. When asked that she be informed of any further incidents, she said the woman laughed and said: “Yeah, there is just so many of them”.

Her daughter also came home with scratches to her face and no explanation. She removed her child from the creche.

* After a preschool inspectorate visit, it was recommended that all incidents or accidents be recorded in an accident/incident book. They also warned the person in charge of the premises had changed — from wife to husband — and that the HSE had not been notified. This is a breach of preschool regulations.

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OPEN WINDOWS

* Complaint that windows at a creche were open far too wide on upper floors. The parent feared a child would fall out. They had alerted the creche two months ago and nothing had been done.

* It emerged the HSE had issued recommendations about the windows two months earlier — that they shouldn’t be more than 10cm open. They also warned no tables or furniture should be near the windows. The creche since got restrictors put on the windows.

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ONLY ONE TOILET

* A woman visited a creche with a view to sending her daughter there. However, she was quickly turned off when she saw there was only one toilet for 14-16 young children. She also said there didn’t seem to be enough staff.

* The HSE visited the creche and found most of the regulatory breaches outlined in the last inspection report had not been rectified.

Up to a half a dozen regulations were being breached. The development of the child wasn’t being catered for, there was no behaviour management policy, records were inept and there was no fridge. The creche was threatened with legal action.

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BITE MARKS

* A parent complained that there was constant biting at the creche. The first time, they weren’t informed about it but spotted a bite mark on his back during shower time. On another occasion when he was bitten, the boy’s father was asked to sign an incident form.

Another time the child came home with blood his on ears, nose, finger and jumper. He said that “somebody had hurt him”. The creche rang back later to say it was a nose bleed. The mother questioned the accident and biting policy of the creche.

* In the HSE’s response, it said the issue had since been “sorted to the happiness of all” and that a new accident policy was in place.

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FRACTURED SKULL

* A HSE social work team was called into a Galway creche after a 22-month-old was sent home following a “minor fall”. The child’s condition detereoriated at home and she was brought to A&E. Doctors found that her skull was fractured.

* The child was put under a HSE supervision order. The preschool team visited the creche and found the fall at creche had not been “seen” by staff but the child was found “face down” on a mat. They also found the child had suffered four falls at the creche. There was a discrepancy between the mother’s story and that of the creche.

Further investigation of the creche’s records found another child had been withdrawn from the service after 19 accidents/incidents. The HSE expressed concern about the “extremely high accident rate” at the centre and another investigation has been arranged by the HSE due to the “apparent poor supervision”.

They also found children sleeping in high chairs and buggies, a lack of consistency in staff — something which they described as “confusing” for small children “who need routine and the ability to form emotional attachment”. They also recommended that a key worker be assigned to each child so they could assure parents that their “developmental needs are being met”.

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CHILDREN LEFT CRECHE

* Complaint made after two preschool children managed to leave a creche unnoticed and were returned by a passerby. It emerged that internal doors and the front door were left open.

* The creche responded by admitting a “lapse in policy” as the owner was “distracted by another child who was upset on their first day”.

The owner fully admitted “the incident could have resulted in very serious consequences”. Owner had said she was “very upset” and “in a state of shock” since the incident. After the visit, the HSE said it was satisfied that the security actions taken “should prevent a re-occurence”. It emerged that the owner had “overlooked checking that the doors were secured before opening the service” that morning.

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COFFEE BURN

* A parent complained her child had been seriously burned by a cup of coffee when the child was taken into the tearoom so that “he wouldn’t distract the other children”. Mother was telephoned and the child was taken to a doctor by the creche and later to A&E. He had to have dressings changed everyday. Mother said she was happy with how the incident was dealt with but had worries about supervision at the creche.

* After an inspection, it was found that staffing ratios were kept on the day and that a policy was in place whereby children shouldn’t be in the tearoom.

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UNEXPLAINED MARKS

* A mother complained that when she picked her child up on one occasion, he had a bruise on his right cheek one day and a red mark on his chin and a grazed forehead the following day. One of the marks could be explained by the creche, the others not. When the parent met with the creche owner, she was told that they could have happened anywhere. The owner rejected the complaint saying she had received “hundreds of wonderful letters” by parents praising her operation.

* The HSE followed up the complaints by visiting the creche and found that the incidents complained about had not been recorded on paper — even though one was acknowledged as having taken place.

They noted the front gate into the creche could easily be opened and mounted by older children. They also said the front play area was unsafe

The creche owner, in a reply letter, rejected many of these findings, saying the front outdoor area was always supervised by staff. She said the creche wasn’t informed of the bruising until four days later. Improvements have been made in the activity area of the creche.

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NO SUPERVISION

* A complaint arose when a parent came to collect their child and heard shouting. The door was answered by a child. Others, the parent alleged, were sitting on the floor, with no adult supervision.

A creche worker appeared with the child and said “now he didn’t fall here” but pointed out a bump on his head. The mother described herself as so shocked at the size of the swelling that she said nothing but rang her GP. She went to the surgery where her son was “drowsy and unsteady on his feet”.

The GP told her to go to A&E where it emerged he had a fractured skull. Doctors said the incident had happened in the past few hours. The toddler was detained overnight.

The parent said she is sure that there was just one worker at the creche on the day of the alleged incident.

* When the HSE investigated, it upheld the complaint saying the creche had inadequate record keeping, weren’t informing parents of daily progress and there were too many children in too small a space. Furthermore, locks on the front door could be opened. It proved impossible to confirm whether the fracture was caused in or outside of the creche. No incident reports had been filled in even though the bump was found hours before the boy was collected.

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SLEEPING WITH BIB

* Parent complained about inadequate staffing numbers and how their child was put down for sleep with his bib on. She said there was “an element of disarray” about the service.

* A HSE unannounced inspection took place. The inspection did not find breaches in relation to adult to child ratios but said safe sleep guidelines had not been followed regarding the bib. The owner subsequently took the decision to close the creche.

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NO INSURANCE

* A parent contacted the HSE after a number of incidents. Then an ex-employee told her of the neglect taking place.

According to the complainant, babies spent most of their time in high chairs and were rarely given time on floor. She also claimed the baby’s room was damp, babies changing area was filthy and “full of flies”. Regularly, her daughter came home in different clothes as she had soiled herself.

Her child was also very unsettled when she came home as, even though not aged one yet, she wasn’t being put to sleep in a quiet area.

On her daughter’s last day at the creche, she screamed for 10 minutes on arrival home. She was put to bed and slept for 16.5 hours. “The penny had dropped and it was then my suspicions were confirmed. She was being neglected at the creche,” the parent wrote.

* A HSE visit confirmed children were spending large parts of the day in high chairs, up-to-date insurance could not be produced and that required ratios were not being met. Staff rosters were not in place either. It emerged that a disregard for staff ratios, the absence of a school register and staff roster and a lack of insurance had been recorded in previous visits as far back as 2003.

The creche had no regard for regulation — even though after inspections, they promised to make improvements.

The creche had been subject to previous complaints, including that rubbish wasn’t being dumped and that a dead rat was found on the creche steps. This complaint was upheld.

The HSE recommended that legal proceedings be brought against the creche after they found a catologue of neglect following the complaint. However, the creche was since shut down.

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REGULAR BRUISING

* A mother expressed outrage that her child was being constantly hurt by another child at the creche. She said the childcare workers were not telling the manager who, when he found out, said he couldn’t ask the other boy to leave. The child said the boy had stuck a nail in his bottom. On another occasion, he came home covered in blood and told his mother the same boy had stuck a needle in him. He was regularly bruised. Just one incident was recorded by the creche, where staff described it as a “clash of personalities”.

* The HSE said it believed the supervisor had dealt with the situation as best she could and that it wouldn’t be taking any further action.

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CHILDREN LEFT ALONE

* A complaint was made that children were left for up to 40 minutes on their own while the creche staff were away from the building. The parent said she believed this was regularly happening. The creche owner said she had “accidentally got locked out and would never leave children unattended”.

A further complaint was received whereby a couple observed the creche owner in her car away from the creche at lunchtime but later found out that the only other creche worker was off sick. She questioned her four-year-old daughter, who said that they were often left on their own “for a long, long time”. The mother attended the creche at 1.25pm the next day but could not get in and could not get an answer on the phone.

At 1.45pm, she saw the creche owner driving her car nearby. It wasn’t until 1.55pm that she answered her phone. The other worker was on her lunch break.

* The HSE inspection team called to the creche on receipt of the complaint and, again, couldn’t enter the building as the woman never answered the bell. She answered the creche phone and said she had been in the garden. Insufficient evidence was presented, according to the HSE, to disprove the creche owner’s explanation for her absence.

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RAN INTO STREET

* A complaint was made by a parent after her child ran from the creche building towards the main road. The gate to the creche had been removed. The mother said she had to hop out of the car and scoop up the child as he could easily have reached the road. The “gate looks as old as the building” she wrote. “If I had been one minute later, he would have been out on the main street traffic.”

* An inspection was carried out and a safer school exit policy was put in place.

•••••••••••

SPECIAL DIET IGNORED

* A child was removed from a creche after the parents found the child eating food containing gluten on two occasions — even though the child was on a gluten-free diet. According to the parents, the child was repeatedly exposed to food containing gluten even though they prepared a gluten-free meal for him from home.

They met with management and were told it wouldn’t happen again but it did. Management

described the incident as a “lack of concentration” on the behalf of staff. They also stated staff training is to be carried out around special diets. In her letter, the mother said: “If our child had a dangerous nut allergy, this mother would be before a coroner instead of bringing this to your attention.”

* HSE investigation took place. Outcome unclear.

•••••••••••

SAFETY CONCERNS

* Child protection services were informed after a mother complained of a series of incidents.

The complaint came about when a mother went to collect her child and a creche worker said she thought that there was a problem with the child’s hand. Later that evening, he was screaming in pain when he raised his arm.

The child had to go to A&E where he was referred for orthopaedic care. Four months later, the child sustained two more injuries in the creche that resulted in hospital visits. The parents said the creche front door was unlocked at times and that children were not well supervised, with children standing on tables.

* When the HSE preschool team attended, there was no record of any incident on the particular day even though a creche worker said she remembered the little boy being in a lot of pain, crying and vomiting before going home.

Staff rosters and attendance sheets for that week were unclear, they also noted. Creche staff said the boy had not been injured at the creche and because it could not be proved, the first complaint was deemed inconclusive.

In relation to the later complaints, the creche had noted a fall in the playground, which led to the little boy’s forehead and nose being grazed. The creche said his trouser legs were regularly too long and that this could have contributed to the accident.

The HSE found that doors weren’t being locked properly at the creche but were unable to confirm the complaints about children standing on tables and worktops as there was not an independent witness.

In its report, the HSE said it had “serious concerns” for the children attending the service and said supervision fell “well below” expected standards of “physical safety”. They also expressed concerns about the children’s long-term development.

Solicitors’ letters were sent by the creche to the HSE accusing them of “unwarranted and unfounded bias and predjudice”.


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