Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte TD, has revealed that Minister Katherine Zappone was informed in the summer of 2018 that the Hyde and Seek Tolka Road creche shown in RTE’s recent expose was operating without registering with Tusla, but this facility was not forced to register until March 2019.
Deputy Rabbitte revealed:
For fourteen months, this facility was allowed to provide care to children and pretend to parents that it was a properly registered, regulated service when it was, in fact, operating in the absence of any permission.
Deputy Rabbitte continued:
Minister Zappone’s own ministerial colleague, Minister Paschal Donohue, wrote to her in August 2018 citing a complaint that was made to him regarding a local childcare facility which is not registered with Tusla.
He also supplied Minister Zappone with a copy of a complaint from his constituent regarding the facility, which alleged that the creche routinely breached basic regulations regarding ratios, safety, etc. Minister Zappone wrote back to Minister Donohue on August 9th telling him that her Department took ‘any potential breach’ of the childcare act very seriously.
Deputy Rabbitte questioned:
My question is this: Why did it take nine more months for this facility to be addressed? Following further emails from the same constituent to Minister Donohue in January and March 2019 expressing their frustration that the creche was still fully operational, the Minister responded in March 2019 to say that the facility had been registered.
Were it not for this diligent member of the public who repeatedly raised the flagrant breach of regulations, who knows whether anything would have been done. How many parents enrolled their children in this service in the 14 months it was operating without registration? How many more would have done so, were it not for the determination of this citizen.
Deputy Rabbitte concluded:
I find it deeply disturbing to think that identification of childcare facilities breaching regulations is being left to concerned citizens, rather than the Minister and Department. The Minister should account for this long delay in bringing a service into line.