In Ireland undercover researchers – all qualified or studying in childcare practice – filmed at 5 centres what was going on after parents had left their children.
The subsequent documentary titled "A Breach of Trust" was produced by Prime Time Investigates. "The programme showed staff at the crèches aggressively handling children, shouting at them, and fabricating entries in daily diaries detailing what the children had done that day. In one incident, a baby was left in a high chair for two hours, while other children were strapped to their chairs for long periods" (thejournal.ie, 2013) .
'A Breach of Trust' could be criticised as journalistic scaremongering and for using questionable ethical approaches. However, the documentary raised public awareness about fundamental flaws in the Irish ECE system where preschools are inspected only every 20 months.
Did you know that In NZ licensing inspections are only carried out if a problem is reported to the Ministry of Education? The Education Review Office visits services only every 3 - 4 years if no major problems were found on its last visit.
As parents we all have a duty to protect our children and that responsibility doesn't stop when we pass our children over to an ECE service. Taking time to do your home-work and make an informed choice of care is important and then it's also important to pop in and see your child at different times unannounced. (This is My ECE's recommendation to parents on lessons that can be learnt from the documentary)
The Irish documentary makers made the decision not to air the documentary again after a request from the shocked parents of children at the crèches - otherwise we would add a link to it here because of its high interest to all parents.
Below is information about the documentary copied as direct quotations from written reports by thejournal.ie .
"Introducing the programme, Prime Time presenter Claire Byrne warns that viewers can expect “upsetting scenes and strong language” from the start as we then see excerpts of a crèche worker swearing at a child, a child being forced to lie down and, in another clip, a child being forced to sit into their chair.
The programme says that most pre-schools are inspected once every 20 months and says that experts complain that the childcare regulations are too basic and poorly enforced to ensure good services across the country. It cites its own examination of HSE inspection reports which show that breaching of childcare regulations is “widespread across the country”.
We are then introduced to the undercover researchers – all qualified or studying in childcare practice – who worked in five crèche chains.
We’re told that in three chains the programme “saw breaches of a serious enough nature” to warrant inclusion in programme. “We did not witness any instances of violent or sexual abuse,” Smyth, the narrator for the programme, definitively states.
The programme then focuses on what [a] crèche tells parents in contrast to what actually happens with one manager – not involved in the day-to-day running of [name of the crèche] – meeting with a researcher posing as a parent who is told about diaries being kept of children’s day-to-day activities at the crèche.
“Every day their mummies and daddies know everything,” the manager is recorded as saying but the programme states that diaries are often fabricated and shows one example where by 1pm, while the child is napping, the entire day of that child has already been documented in their diary.
Records on food allergies are also not adequately kept with one chef recorded as saying that if the HSE saw his list of food allergies for children at the facility, the crèche would be shut down as the list is out of date and from last year.
More footage shows that there are no cots for young children during their nap time and no heavy blinds which can be brought down to keep out the light. One worker takes up to 45 minutes to settle children while another is shown trying to force a child to lie down.
“We’re not going to have any more silliness,” the worker says as the child begins to cry. “Go asleep,” the worker repeatedly says. More undercover footage shows a worker attempting to get a child to lie down and sleep by covering their head with a blanket.