There was an incredibly powerful reaction to RTÉ Investigates: Crèches, Behind Closed Doors
Since the programme aired on Wednesday night, the company's owner has announced she is stepping down.
On Wednesday night, Irish audiences watched RTÉ Investigates: Crèches, Behind Closed Doors, a documentary that sent two reporters undercover as crèche employees at Hyde & Seek Childcare, after being contacted by a number of parents about the standards present at those crèches.
Once working there, the reporters - who were fully trained and Garda vetted - discovered that a number of other employees working with children had not been fully vetted before being hired.
It was also found that the ratio of adults to children was beyond the strict guidelines set out by child and family agency Tusla, with a single staff member left alone with twenty children for an hour or more at a time.
Additionally, there were concerns over the sleeping conditions within the crèches, with cots packed so tightly together that it made it next to impossible for staff to properly care for the children under their care.
Through their investigations, RTÉ discovered that Hyde & Seek had remained unregistered by its owner Anne Davy for a full 14 months after opening in January 2018, meaning it was not subject to regulatory inspections and checks.
They also discovered that the company had changed its name three times in previous years, with Anne Davy convicted on two different occasions for breach of regulations, including one occasion when a staff member left a three-year-old behind at a playground.
In a statement to the national broadcaster, Hyde & Seek stated that they had been "operating crèches for over 15 years and strives to provide a top quality child-centred service", but upon being shown RTÉ's findings, the company confirmed that Anne Davy is stepping down and "will take no future role in front line childcare provision".
In that statement, Davy acknowledged "that in recent months she has occasionally fallen below the standards of our behavioural management policy and has found herself being short, rather than simply direct".
Following the documentary's airing, Brian Lee, Director of Quality Assurance, Tusla, said: "Every single registered service provider in Ireland has been inspected, and the majority of service providers are compliant with the majority of regulations. In 2018 Tusla carried out 2513 inspections, and reports are available on Tusla's website.
"However, in a small number of cases enforcement action is necessary and in those instances Tusla can and does take action, up to and including closing the service, and/or taking a criminal prosecution."
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs advises "Any parent who has a concern in relation to the operation of an early learning and care service should firstly contact their service provider directly to discuss their concerns. If you feel that your concerns are not being listened to you can contact Tusla through their Unsolicited Information on 061 461700 / firstname.lastname@example.org"
Meanwhile, the reaction to the programme online has also been very powerful:
I work in a Creche. I adore my kids and treat them like my own. This programme is making me physically sick. I hope Ann Davy never sleeps soundly again #RTEInvestigates
— Niamh (@niamhnolann) July 24, 2019
As a Montessori teacher, I am utterly appalled after watching this. children's happiness must be paramount in any setting. There's no doubt Ann Davy needs to go to jail but questions must also be asked of @tusla, they knew of all this and did nothing?#RTEInvestigates
— Emma Morrissey (@emmamorr) July 24, 2019
Not once was a child heard to be laughing through the whole programme. That speaks volumes. #RTEInvestigates
— 🕯💀 The Monster Mashleigh 💀🕯 (@asht19) July 24, 2019
Tonight was a tough watch. Nothing justifies what Anne Davy has done.
But where do we go from here?
We need to create a model where children’s needs come first, where workers are paid a livable wage and providers who prioritize quality are adequately supported. #RTEInvestigates
— Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin (@Aoifva) July 24, 2019
Well done to everyone who worked on #RTEInvestigates tonight - great albeit distressing to watch journalism 👏👏👏
— Ciara Kelly (@ciarakellydoc) July 24, 2019