The harrowing and shocking scenes shown on RTÉ Primetime Investigates programme ‘A Breach of Trust’ on Tuesday night featuring a number of named childcare facilities repulsed and shocked the nation.
You didn’t need to be a parent to feel outrage and anger as we saw scenes of childcare workers throwing little children to the ground like rag dolls, swearing at them, and strapping them to chairs. Imagine then what the parents of these innocent little beings were thinking.
It’s little wonder that a criminal investigation has been launched.
How these workers could show such a lack of love and warmth towards the children in their care defies logic.
How long were these beautiful babies being subjected to such abuse before RTÉ lifted the lid on it? What kind of lasting damage has it done to the children? The reaction of a nation must only be a fraction of the emotion felt by those who brought those gorgeous children into the world.
Those people who subjected them to abuse and those who are in charge of these shamed facilities must be dealt with through the courts. What they did was a breach of human rights.
There is a serious need for a political response to this situation where the quality of care in crèches and childcare facilities is clearly not of one high standard across the board. Statutory inspections are not frequent enough and are clearly not stringent enough to force the management of some facilities into action.
Childcare facilities must be inspected regularly and without prior warning to the management and staff. The findings of such inspections must be available to the parents and guardians of the children attending the facilities and to the public as a whole who might be interested in using a particular service.
There must be consequences for any facility found to be non-compliant with the regulations.
State funding must be withdrawn from any facility found to be in breach of the rules.
Better checks must be done on the free pre-school year to ensure that staff are not falsifying attendance sheets and any other relevant records to ensure funding is not pulled.
Staff must be garda vetted and suitably qualified. That means that the garda vetting process also needs improving with the waiting period for clearance way too long.
Inspectors must be experienced in the relevant field and have to be armed with the powers to actually enforce legislation.
All of that said, it is important to remember that not every childcare facility in this country is flouting the regulations and failing in their duty of care to the children in attendance. There are so many excellent crèches and pre-schools with exemplary records. The majority of childcare workers are genuine, loving, and caring people who ensure your child enjoys a home away from home environment when in their care.
But parents must be certain that they are receiving only the best service for their child. Don’t be afraid to voice concerns or ask questions. Could you live with yourself if you didn’t?