Childcare should be a public service for children, not somewhere to “warehouse them” while their parents are at work, the head of the Children’s Rights Alliance has urged.
The charity’s chief executive Tanya Ward was responding to a creche chain owner who was caught on camera declaring “it’s a business; it’s not a babysitting service”.
Anne Davy, one of the owners of Hyde & Seek Childcare creche chain in Dublin is to step down and take no future role in front line childcare provision.
Ms Ward questioned whether childcare centres should be getting public funding when there were serious breaches of the regulations.“Do we need more closures as well,” she asked.
The company has four creches across Dublin catering for children from three months up to 12 years of age.
Ms Davy, who has previous convictions for breaches of childcare regulations, is shown shouting at toddlers because the room was untidy in an RTÉ Investigates documentary.
When one of the children gets up, he is pulled back to the floor.
Development psychologist, Prof Sheila Greene, one of two experts appearing in the programme, said it was the completely wrong way to deal with small children – threatening them and shouting at them.
Early education lecturer, Dr Mary Moloney, said it was “degrading “ and “bullying behaviour”.
A carer is concerned at how Ms Davy handles an upset baby during the documentary. Ms Davy covers the child’s eyes, returning her hand even when pushed away by the baby.
A staff member loses patience when getting children to sleep. A child is held down – he is upset and when he resisted his head is pushed back into the mattress repeatedly.
“You have to have a no-tolerance policy for managers and staff who treat children and babies like that,” said Ms Ward.
Hyde and Seek said the staff member involved in the incident no longer works with the company.
The company acknowledge that the programme that includes footage recorded by two undercover researchers had raised “real issues” it needed to address.
They had recently changed the layout of their cot rooms at their Tolka Road and Shaw Street creches after the television documentary raised fire and safety concerns.
It said that during a difficult period at the Tolka Road creche Ms Davy took a more frontline childcare role than she would normally and accepted that she did not handle this period well.
In a statement Tusla said it had been proactively addressing areas of non-compliance with regulations in these crèches since 2018.
It pointed out that it secured the prosecution of the Glasnevin creche thus year for the operation of an unregistered service while two of the other creches have been inspected and subjected to on-going and significant regulatory enforcement activity.
RTÉ reported concerns that also includes staff to child ratios to both Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and Dublin Fire Brigade.