Creches failing to meet regulations face closure after Tusla removes funding

A ‘significant number’ of the 37 services have made the necessary improvements

Footage for an RTÉ undercover investigation into a chain of Dublin creches showed babies restrained in high chairs for lengthy periods, causing them to become highly distressed. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Footage for an RTÉ undercover investigation into a chain of Dublin creches showed babies restrained in high chairs for lengthy periods, causing them to become highly distressed. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A number of creches that have failed to meet regulatory standards are facing closure after Tusla removes their funding, the Department of Children has said.

It emerged last month that Tusla maintains a risk register on which 37 creches were listed as having “critical” issues with potential regulatory non-compliance.

While Tusla said it would not be revealing the identities of those childcare facilities, it has now provided Minister for Children Katherine Zappone with a full update on each unit.

A spokesman for the Minister said it was “clear that Tusla has been actively seeking to address issues in these services and a range of actions are currently being pursued by them”.

The Department of Children said a number of those services have not demonstrated that they are taking sufficient action to meet regulatory requirements and “hence Tusla is moving to inform the services of their intention to deregister them”. Tusla maintains a register of childcare facilities operating in accordance with regulations which it publishes on its website.

Cause of concern

Beyond this, a “small number” of the creches are still a cause of concern, the spokeswoman said.

“Tusla is continuing to engage with a small number of services who remain of some concern and has sought further information from them. These services have a short window of time to address the concerns of the regulator.

“Once responses have been received, Tusla will review their status and a decision will be taken swiftly whether to continue with removal from the register or to de-escalate the service.”

The department said that, overall, a “significant number” of the 37 services have made the necessary improvements to the standards of care required and so are to be de-escalated from the “critical” level of concern.

The department said Tusla had offered assurances that in any instance where a serious risk to a child or children has been found, the local social work service would have been informed and parents notified.

“Tusla has assured the Minister that it will continue to use its powers to their fullest extent to assure the well-being of children.”

“The Minister has again encouraged any parents or staff with concerns about a service to make this information available to the Tusla Inspectorate’s Unsolicited Information service.”

Undercover investigation

The information about the 37 creches in question came to light during a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Children, where the fall-out from an RTÉ undercover investigation into a chain of Dublin creches was discussed.

Footage showed babies restrained in high chairs for lengthy periods, causing them to become highly distressed. In one instance a child was placed alone in a room with the door closed for misbehaving.

In response to the controversy, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would like to hear from parents about suggestions to install CCTV cameras in childcare facilities around the country.

“I think it’s something that has to be considered, but it needs to be considered carefully as well,” he said.

“I would certainly want to know what parents would think of that in particular. While parents might be reassured by having CCTV in creches, they also mightn’t like the idea that their children are being videoed all the time. I think there’s a balance of issues there that would have to be considered before going ahead with that.”