Childcare Abuse, Creche Abuse, Pre-School and Nursery Abuse*
‘A BREACH OF TRUST’
The issue of childcare abuse in creches and after school facilities has been in the news over recent months and years.
Following the RTÉ Prime Time programme ‘A Breach of Trust‘, it became apparent that certain creches and nurseries had not followed the correct process and in some cases, verbal and physical abuse was caused by certain staff members on children and toddlers in their care.
This programme was extremely distressing to both the parents and guardians of these children and also the general public, and has raised awareness across Ireland.
WHAT EFFECT DOES THIS HAVE ON THE CHILDREN?
A number of behavioral psychologists in Ireland have stated that this type of abuse is both emotionally and physically harmful to a child, and may have long term psychological effects on a child.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) produces inspection reports annually and from the reports completed during 2012/2013, in the case of pre-schools and creches:
- 75 per cent of pre-schools and creches are in breach of the childcare regulations
- 34 per cent are in breach of five or more regulations
- 57 per cent of Dublin creches had 5 or more breaches while 86 per cent did in Kildare had 5 or more breaches last year
- One-in-five creches in Roscommon breached 10 or more regulations last year
- In Kildare almost a quarter of creches breached 10 or more regulations
- 48 per cent of creches were in breach of regulation 8 concerning the adult/child ratios and staff background checks
- 29 per cent of creches were in breach of regulation 19 concerning the overcrowding and upkeep of premises
- 41 per cent of creches were in breach of regulation 27 on measures to provide a safe environment
- One in seven creches nationally were in breach of regulation 5 concerning the welfare of children
Since the airing of ‘A Breach of Trust’, certain creches have implemented more stringent methods of monitoring and training their staff.
WHAT INFORMATION CAN I OBTAIN FROM A CRECHE OR OTHER CHILDCARE FACILITY IN RELATION TO MY CHILD’S CARE?
Barnardo’s have a helpful Parents Guide in relation to childcare. Below are helpful points in relation to the information that you can legally request from your child’s creche, pre-school or nursery:
- The service or club should be happy to tell you that all staff (voluntary or paid) have gone through a Garda check.
- You should ask what the organisation’s Child Protection Policy is and if the staff have been trained in the policy. Proper training will assist staff in preventing and responding to suspected child abuse. The Designated Person is the title given to the person appointed in each organisation to deal with child protection concerns reported by staff, children or others.
- Who is the Designated Person in your child’s club, crèche etc.? You should be satisfied that they have guidelines that ensure the best standards have been set for the ongoing delivery of that service. This includes having the recommended numbers of staff to supervise the children.
- The organisation should keep records on all children. These should include your consent to membership, medical details, information about any special needs and emergency contact telephone numbers.
- Check that staff have an accident/incident book where they write up and tell you about any incident concerning your child on the day it happens.
- It is important to find out how the service deals with challenging or disruptive behaviour and bullying.
- It is important to know that they will deal with it and have thought about what is acceptable and what is not. If your child is going on a trip it is important that you know what their policies are around these trips.
- You should satisfy yourself that the building and facilities are safe and secure and that there is someone trained in first aid on site.
You can read the full Leaflet HERE.
WHAT SIGNS CAN I LOOK OUT FOR?
Small children and toddlers find it more difficult to verbalise if they are feeling stressed or upset but there are certain signs you can be aware of, such as the ones below:
- Your child loved crèche or pre-school but now doesn’t want to go.
- He/she complains of stomach ache or headaches before being dropped off at a creche, daycare or preschool.
- He/she no longer wants to play with a child he/she once liked.
- He/she suddenly becomes withdrawn, depressed, fearful or clingy.
- He/she has unexplained bruising or cuts. Small children get bumps and bruises when they play, but if your child seems to have more than a normal amount or “forgets” the details of getting hurt, it might warrant a closer look.
The above list is only indicative; however, if you feel that your child has suffered injury or trauma as the result of any form of abuse when in someone else’s care, there are steps you can take both legally and
HOW CAN I VINDICATE MY CHILD’S RIGHTS?
If your child has been the victim of verbal, psychological or physical abuse while under the care of a creche, nursery, pre-school or any other body that cares for children on behalf of their parents or guardians, you may be entitled to take a claim on your child’s behalf, and on your own behalf also.
Our experienced team of abuse solicitors have a strong history of dealing with this type of case, and we would be happy to discuss your particular circumstances with you.
CONTACT COLEMAN LEGAL PARTNERS
If you would like to discuss your situation, please contact Kathrin Coleman by email or by telephone on 01-5313800.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.