Dublin creche chain owner steps away from childcare duties

Hyde & Seek owner leaves ‘front line’ role after undercover RTE report reveals ‘issues’

The RTÉ investigation was prompted by several families who were concerned about the standards of care their children had received

The RTÉ investigation was prompted by several families who were concerned about the standards of care their children had received

 

An owner of a Dublin creche chain is stepping away from “front line childcare provision” after shortcomings in the running of her childcare business were uncovered.

Anne Davy – a co-owner of Hyde & Seek that runs four creches in Drumcondra, Glasnevin and Dublin city centre caring for children aged three months to 12 years – accepted a RTÉ investigative programme to be broadcast on Wednesday night “raised real issues” that the creches needed to address.

Hyde & Seek announced Ms Davy’s decision to step back from “all front line work” at the company’s creche on Tolka Road and further changes to how her creches are run ahead of the programme’s broadcast.

The childcare business announced the changes in a statement released by the company’s public relations agency, Murray Consultants, to the broadcaster before the airing of an RTÉ Investigates documentary.

The programme includes footage recorded by two undercover researchers for the documentary makers who looked at the standards of care at the creches.

The investigation, prompted by several families who were concerned about the standards of care their children had received at various Hyde & Seek creches, reveals the company opened a new, purpose-built facility in Glasnevin but failed to register for it appropriately.

Further breaches of regulations were discovered by the documentary makers, including the failure of Hyde & Seek management to ensure staff were Garda-vetted before working with children.

They also found frequent and significant breaches of the strict ratios that cover the number of adults supervising children in their care.

RTÉ’s undercover researchers also found cots were packed so tightly at Hyde & Seek’s Tolka Road creche that workers found it difficult to provide appropriate care for children at nap times.

The company said in the statement that it had already addressed “some” of the issues identified in the programme, including changing the layout of the cot rooms at the company’s Tolka Road creche and Shaw Street creche, which is located off Pearse Street near Trinity College.

The business said in its statement to RTÉ that recent unannounced visits by Dublin City Council fire officers to the premises said “there were no fire safety issues requiring immediate action”.

Dublin Fire Brigade said that one of its fire prevention officers visited the Tolka Road crèche recently and that “a number of fire safety deficiencies were identified” during this inspection.

“Assessing the specific deficiencies in this instance and using long-established risk assessment procedures, Dublin Fire Brigade are engaging with the management of the facility to ensure the safety from fire of all occupants and that the identified deficiencies are addressed,” said the fire brigade.

Hyde & Seek said “during a recent difficult period at the Tolka Road creche, Ms Davy took a more front line childcare role than she normally does”.

“She accepts she did not handle this period well, but would point out that several comments she made on film were in fact directed at your programme’s researcher in frustration at what she saw as a failure to carry out basic duties,” said the company. “However, she is now stepping back from all front line work at the creche.”

The company said it was going restructure its management including the appointment of a new manager at Tolka Road.

This is not the first time that issues have arisen over the running of Ms Davy’s creche business.

Ms Davy (64) was fined €1,200 in 2005 for failing to provide adequate safeguards and supervision for a three-year-old boy who was left behind in a park during an outing the previous year.

The boy was being looked after at the Tolka Road creche, which was known as Giggles Creche and Montessori when the incident happened in July 2004.

Records show that Ms Davy registered the business name “Hyde & Seek Creche & Montessori” in October 2006. The name appears to be taken from the Hyde Court apartment building on the corner of Shaw Street and Townsend Street where the creche occupies one of the ground-floor units.

The broadcaster found Anne Davy was also convicted in 2007 for breaching regulations covering child to adult ratios and failing to keep records.

Publicly available company accounts show that Hyde & Seek Childcare Limited - incorporated at 29 ABC Tolka Road in 2012 - made a profit of €767,000 in 2018, down from €806,400 the previous year.

Ms Davy and her husband, Peter, who live on Lindsay Road in Glasnevin, are listed as directors of the company. She owns 75 per cent of the company and her husband the remaining 25 per cent.

The company’s accounts show staff numbers at the company fell last year. The firm’s monthly average number of employees during 2018 was 32, down from 41 the previous year.

The business generates substantial profits and cash. The company had “cash and cash equivalents” of €857,000 at the end of the year and was owed €2 million by group companies, which account for most of the company’s €2.9 million in shareholders’ funds.

Ms Davy is a director of another company in the group called Hyde & Seek Glasnevin Limited, which was set up in 2014, with her daughter Siobhan (31) also serving as a director. Hyde & Seek Childcare Limited owns 51 per cent of that company; Siobhan Davy owns the remaining 49 per cent.

RTÉ has reported that Hyde & Seek pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court earlier this year to the non-registration of the chain’s new Glasnevin creche, which is near the junction of Finglas Road and Prospect Avenue, and was given the benefit of the Probation Act.

The creche was eventually registered on March 1st, 2019.

A new company named Hyde & Seek (Prospect) Limited was set up in February 2019. Ms Davy sent a letter to the Registrar of Companies that month, on Hyde & Seek Glasnevin Ltd letterheads paper saying she could confirm that company had “no objection” to the registration of the new company.

Siobhan Davy is listed as a director of the new company.