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Judge Says €15,000 Compensation for Crèche Psychological Trauma Insufficient

A judge at the Circuit Civil Court has refused to approve a settlement of compensation for crèche psychological trauma, saying that €15,000 is not enough.

Emilie Kiely (4) from Sandyford in Dublin started attending the Giraffe crèche in Stepaside in 2011 when she was just eight months old. In September 2012, Emilie was moved to the “Toddlers Room”, after which she would become stressed and anxious when her parents were preparing to take her to the childcare facility.

The crèche was exposed in May 2013 by the RTE Prime Time documentary “A Breach of Trust” for allegedly mistreating children in its care. Emilie´s parents withdrew their daughter from the childcare facility after they saw one of the minders responsible for looking after their daughter screaming at children in the program.

After seeking legal advice, Emilie´s father – John – claimed compensation for crèche psychological trauma, alleging that his daughter´s behaviour had changed after her transfer to the Toddlers Room and would cry “No crèche! No crèche”. John claimed that his daughter had suffered stress, emotional upset and terror due to a breach in the crèche’s duty of care.

The claims were denied by the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre, but an offer of compensation for crèche psychological trauma amounting to €15,000 was made to Emilie´s parents without an admission of liability. As the offer of compensation was in favour of a minor, the settlement had to be approved by a judge before the case could be closed.

Consequently the circumstances of Emilie´s alleged psychological trauma were heard by Judge James O´Donohue at the Circuit Civil Court. Judge O´Donohue ruled that the proposed settlement of compensation for crèche psychological trauma was insufficient for the level of injury that it was claimed Emilie had suffered.

He ruled that the case should go to a full hearing before another judge – a decision that will affect up to twenty-five other compensation claims for psychological trauma that have been made on behalf of children that attended the Giraffe childcare facility. The Kiely´s – and many of the other parents – have also initiated legal action against the crèche for breach of contract. That claim is yet to be resolved.