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Legal Cases likely for Hyde and Seek Creche Mismanagement

Child Protection Agency Tusla has revealed that its Social Work Unit is working with the Garda Child Protection Unit at Mountjoy Garda to open an investigation following the revelations uncovered by RTÉ Investigates into standards of care at the Hyde & Seek Childcare chain. Legal cases are a  likely outcome from these investigations.

Tusla has obtained a copy of the secretly filmed television footage from RTE. This footage shows mistreatment and emotional abuse of children by the Hyde and Seek company, among a range of other discrepancies including staff to children ratios, no Garda vetting for new staff before employment commences, poor standards of food and insufficient space allowed between cots for sleep to be properly supervised. Tusla has now handed the tape over to the Gardaí.

Gardaí in two Dublin stations are asking any parents or guardians who have complaints to contact them at Mountjoy Garda Station as they seek to investigate operations at the Hyde and Seek crechés. In a separate enquiry, Gardaí based in Mountjoy are investigating an alleged assault on a young girl at one of the crèches which is thought to have occurred earlier this month. No arrests have yet been made in this case.

Yesterday Tusla announced that it has already initiated official enforcement proceedings against the Hyde and Seek. The owner of Hyde & Seek, Anne Davy, was removed from any frontline activity for the company ahead of the RTE Investigates programme being aired on Tuesday evening (July 24).  The Hyde and Seek Childcare group released a statement on Ms Davy, saying that “in recent months she has occasionally fallen below the standards of our behavioural management policy”. It went on to say that Davy had dealt with children in a manner which was “short, rather than simply direct”.

During the RTE programme Davy is recorded placing children on their stomachs to put them to sleep at one of the chain’s creches and advised one of the undercover reporters that: “This is a business, it’s not a babysitting [facility].” She was also recorded covering a baby’s eyes and she (Davy) blocked the child’s vision despite her hand being pushed away by the child. On another occasion she is shown holding another child down on its stomach for a number of minutes to try and get it to go to sleep. Davy offered to show one of the undercover reporters how to use this as an effective manner of encouraging the children in their care to sleep.

Davy was previously convicted in 2004 following an incident when her staff a North Dublin crechés. left a three-year-old boy on his own at a nearby playground after they had returned to the creché with the other children in their care. Subsequent to this, in 2007, she was convicted for breaking child care regulations such as inadequate child to adult ratios and failing to maintain adequate records. During these years, the company changed name on three occasions.

A group representing parents of the children that attended Hyde & Seek creches revealed their devastation and sorrow at what was revealed in the RTE programme and criticised Tusla for not providing the framework within which regulation breaches could not occur. It read: “Our trust has been betrayed. We call on all parties concerned to immediately address how this happened, and to credibly explain how they will make amends. It appears the current oversight system, even when it detects breaches, is inadequate to ensure the same, similar, or more serious breaches do not occur again.”

In a separate statement released yesterday Tusla said: “We recognise and share the serious concerns the programme raises about the quality of care within these crèches, but more importantly the impact of concerning adult behaviours on children. We have been proactively addressing areas of non-compliance with regulations in these crèches since 2018.”

Concerned parent can contact Mountjoy Garda Station on 01 666 8600.