Giraffe Childcare in Belarmine – one of three creches in the Dublin area being investigated by gardai and the HSE. Picture: Google Maps

A CRECHE in Stepaside has become the subject of a HSE and Garda investigation following an RTE sting operation that resulted in the suspension of two members of staff at the award-winning childcare facility.
Giraffe Childcare in Belarmine is one of three creches in the Dublin area being investigated by gardai and the HSE following information provided by an undercover reporter for the RTE Investigations Unit, who secretly filmed inside the creche during a six-week work placement.
Simon Dowling, managing director, saw the footage last week and said: “RTE facilitated a viewing for Giraffe’s management and staff of the edited clips of their researcher’s undercover film footage taken at our centre at Belarmine.
“There was clear evidence of inappropriate conduct in caring for young children by a particular staff member, who has already been suspended.
“The children were seated for periods longer than necessary, or to be considered best practice.
“The footage also highlights the unacceptable behaviour of aforementioned member of staff and her abrupt handling of the children during rest and sleep periods.
“There was also an indication that parents’ communication diaries may have been fabricated, and a question over the maintenance of the allergy list.
“We are in the process of concluding our response to the HSE investigation,” said Dowling.
A spokesperson for the HSE said: “Earlier this week, the HSE received reports from gardai relating to three creches in the Dublin area.
“HSE Children And Family Services received three anonymous complaints last month relating to the same creche services. These now appear to have been made by a reporter, who posed as a childcare worker in the creches.”
Speaking to The Gazette, a concerned parent whose child attends the Giraffe centre in Stepaside said the thought of something happening to children in a creche “makes me sick”.
He said: “To be honest, I’m still very stressed by the whole thing. My problem is, with my child being so young, they can’t speak up.
“I found out on Monday when I dropped off my child in the creche and was greeted by another parent asking me if I’d heard what had happened. Our child is a baby in the creche, and has been there for four months.
“One of the parents told me that two of the staff had been suspended for ‘mistreating the children’, [which] was how he put it.
“One of the directors of Giraffe told me he had suspended two of the staff, pending further investigations.
“I’m only too delighted this [undercover investigation] has happened now, if it’s going to make a difference.
“I was talking to someone else whose child was in the other creche involved on the northside who has seen the video, and it is absolutely shocking, to say the least and very, very upsetting,” said the parent.
The parent said he had been assured that changes were being implemented in the Giraffe creche, including putting in CCTV, and that several parents had taken their children out of the creche.
He said: “The only people who have seen the video are the parents of children caught on camera, but that doesn’t mean the other children weren’t affected at one stage or another, and just haven’t been caught on camera.
“You’re going to have parents of the children affected saying it’s too late.”