Four Dublin creches at the centre of a major controversy are to close by the end of next month, following an order by Tusla.
The Child and Family Agency has removed the four Hyde & Seek creches from the register in light of disturbing allegations that were uncovered in an investigation.
The creches are on Tolka Road, Shaw Street, Millbourne Avenue and in Glasnevin in Dublin.
Management have been ordered to shut their doors by December 31 and have also been given 21 days to appeal Tusla’s decision.
Earlier this year an undercover investigation into the standard of care at Hyde & Seek creches revealed how children were roughly handled.
We are very confident in the service provided at all four of our creches and will appeal this decisionHyde & Seek
It also showed a series of fire safety breaches at the multimillion-euro family-run business.
In a statement a spokesman for Hyde & Seek said: “We do not accept the outcome of the regulatory process.
“Since the airing of the RTE programme we have continued to work to ensure we adhere to the highest standards.
“We are very confident in the service provided at all four of our creches and will appeal this decision.”
Tusla said it acknowledges that parents in the areas will find themselves in the difficult position of finding alternative childcare providers.
Brian Lee, director of quality assurance at Tusla, said the decision to remove the service from the register comes at the end of an enforcement process.
“This decision is not taken lightly, and is a last resort which is used when as regulator Tusla cannot stand over the continued operation of a service,” he said.
“Tusla acknowledges that parents will find themselves in the difficult position of finding alternative childcare providers in these areas, and has notified the Department of Children and Youth Affairs of our concerns, who are working with the local city/county childcare committees to make support available to parents.”
Tusla said it will expedite any applications for registration of new childcare providers in this area, or any applications for a Change in Circumstances in this area.
It also said it acknowledges the impact on staff at these services.
The decision to shut down the creches comes as Tusla announced plans for greater communication.
Among these include:
– Publishing decisions to remove Early Years’ services from the register on Tusla’s website, tusla.ie
– Publicly communicating details of deregistered services
– Consulting with parents as part of the regulatory process in 2020
– Asking providers to display their certificate of registration
– Adding date of inspection to the register of early years services to alert parents that a report is pending
Mr Lee added: “This enhanced public communication comes as a result of feedback from parents.
“While Tusla cannot contact parents of children in individual creches directly, we can ensure that this information is readily and publicly available to assist parents in making informed decisions.
“As the regulator in this sector, Tusla’s role is to monitor the safety and quality of care and support of children in early years’ provision to ensure compliance with regulations.
“Where there are consistent and serious breaches, Tusla will take action up to and including prosecution and removal from the register of early years’ services.”
Reacting to the closure, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said: “The safety and protection of children remains my first priority.
“This is done through the enforcement of regulations which have children at the heart of their implementation.
“The de-registrations are evidence of Tusla’s robust approach in taking action where it finds evidence of non-compliance with regulations.”
Tusla is in the process of prosecuting the Hyde & Seek companies and their registered providers.
Ms Zappone said that she has “great sympathy” for the parents who now have to find their children alternative childcare.
She added: “In addition to the distress already caused to parents by the poor standards evidenced, the prospect of losing their creche is clearly a major worry for these parents.
“Officials in my department have been liaising with Dublin City Childcare Committee and Fingal County Childcare Committee to offer support to parents who will be affected by the closures.”