Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate this morning notified the registered providers of the ‘Hyde and Seek’ crèches in central Dublin (which were the focus of the RTÉ Investigates documentary, Behind Closed Doors, in July) that their four services will be removed from the Register of Early Years Services in 21 working days. While the providers have a right of appeal to the District Court, the services will be required to close and public funding will cease on the removal date.
Commenting on Tusla’s announcements, Minister 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. I also welcome Tusla’s decision to publish information on these actions on its website, to give parents more information.
In addition to the de-registrations, Tusla is in the process of prosecuting the Hyde and Seek companies and their registered providers.
Minister Zappone stressed,
I have great sympathy for the parents who have their children in the crèches and who will need to find alternative childcare options. In addition to the distress already caused to parents by the poor standards evidenced, the prospect of losing their crèche 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 supports to parents who will be affected by the closures.
Tusla also announced today that it has published information on these deregistration processes on its website, and that it will similarly seek to inform parents about its actions in any future cases.
Both Dublin City Childcare Committee and Fingal County Childcare Committee are planning to extend their opening hours over the coming days and weeks to support affected parents. The City/County Childcare Committees have local knowledge on availability of places. They can also offer advice to parents on choosing a quality service. Dublin City Childcare Committee can be contacted at (01) 873 3696 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fingal County Childcare Committee can be contacted at (01) 485 1727 or email@example.com. Contact details and links to websites of all local City/County Childcare Committee can be found on www.myccc.ie.
In addition, advice on finding local childminders is available from Childminding Ireland at (01) 287 8466 or firstname.lastname@example.org and through www.childminding.ie.
Following the RTÉ broadcast, Minister Zappone wrote to the Chairperson of Tusla to ask what further powers Tusla might need. Following Tusla’s reply, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is now examining legislative options, which may include mechanisms to inform parents of inspection findings and enforcement actions at an earlier stage, to require services to display prominently their inspection status, and to alert parents in relation to the operation of unregistered services.
Notes for editors:
1. Because of the risk of prejudicing the outcome of on-going legal proceedings, neither Tusla nor the Minister is able to comment on the detail of Tusla’s investigations.
2. Dublin City Childcare Committee is supporting efforts to increase local capacity, and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is actively seeking to increase capacity across the country, both through an annual capital funding scheme and through plans to open up regulation and funding schemes to paid, non-relative childminders.
3. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs awarded €6.25m in capital funding in 2019, to create 1,300 new places for under-3s and 2,300 new places for school-age children. Further capital funding will be available in 2020.
4. The Draft Childminding Action Plan was published in August 2019 for public consultation. The Action Plan sets out proposals for bringing all paid, non-relative childminders within the scope of regulation and public funding, which would significantly increase the number of available places for early learning and care and for school-age childcare.