‘Where are my kids going to go?’ Parents on Hyde & Seek closures

Parents at a city centre creche worry about finding alternative childcare at short notice

The Hyde & Seek creche on Shaw Street, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Hyde & Seek creche on Shaw Street, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Generally happy with the staff but not with the situation – this was the picture painted by some of the parents at the Hyde & Seek childcare centre on Shaw Street, Dublin, on Thursday evening.

As they arrived in a trickle to collect their children, still taking in the news of pending closures, the young families pondered what to do next.

“We don’t really have any other alternative, and that’s what concerns me,” said Luka Petrik.

His young son, happily distracted by the passing overhead trains, had settled well at the centre. “That’s the reason why one of us didn’t quit our job: because he was happy,” Luka explained, but he, like other parents, was still concerned about the situation and had tried to find alternative childcare. Nothing was available until next summer, he said.

His wife, Aleksandra, arrived shortly afterwards and kissed Luka on the cheek. She was in work when she saw the headline on her phone.

“My heart just sank. I have to say I was kind of expecting it,” she said. “We were hanging on by a thread, because it’s the only [option] we have at the moment.”

For these young parents, too, there is a bigger picture.

“My biggest concern is that the Government don’t get involved a little bit more [in the sector],” said Aleksandra. “For something like childcare and safety, it shouldn’t be left to the market. It’s too fragile.”

Tusla issued orders to de-register four Dublin creches run by Hyde & Seek on Thursday. The creches, which were featured in an RTÉ Investigates programme in recent months, are located on Tolka Road, Shaw Street, Glasnevin, and Millbourne Avenue.

‘All full’

Greg Kubacka seemed sanguine while exiting the Shaw Street centre with his three-year-old daughter, Lilly. He has been paying €850 a month. He heard Thursday’s news on the radio and through a parents’ WhatsApp group. Staff told him nothing.

“We are looking for a new creche, and I think next year from January we will get somewhere else,” he said. “It’s difficult I think; they are all full, you have to wait a few months.”

This was a common theme. Many of the families of the 220 children across four creches will be thinking about what to do next in a city where childcare is difficult to find.

William, who had just collected his three-year-old daughter, was visibly taken aback by the news, which he had only just heard.

“That’s not good because they have been working on the issues and we have seen the progress,” he said. “My only concern now is where are my kids going to go? It’s sudden. It’s only a month [of notice] and all the creches are closed.”

Another couple, who asked not to be named and whose nine-month-old daughter has now been taken out of Shaw Street, questioned the process.

“If something is not safe, it should be closed immediately,” the mother said. “Why would you say, ‘It’s not safe, it should close on the 31st of December’ and leave the kids in there?”