Minder left small children home alone while she shopped
A CHILDMINDER left several small children unsupervised at home alone while she went shopping before she was discovered by HSE inspectors.
The carer did not have Garda vetting or insurance in place while she was looking after the children from her home. On another occasion, she admitted to leaving seven children with her father as a supervisor.
The HSE inspectors said that it was their opinion that the childminder did not understand the seriousness of leaving small children alone in the house.
When questioned she said that she did not see why 'private' arrangements between her and the parents of the children should be the concern of the HSE.
The woman had been operating for years in Galway, minding more than five children at a time.
She has been advised of the relevant legislation and has put insurance in place.
A two-year-old boy escaped through a side entrance gate at another childcare centre and was found wandering around at the front of the building.
The gates had low level latches which could be accessed by children.
The mother pulled up in front of the building and found him outside -- she described her utter shock at seeing her son unsupervised, outside the building.
Parents were not informed of an outbreak of e-coli at another childcare centre in Cork.
One parent lodged their concern regarding a private addiction centre opening up which would be overlooking the children's care centre.
Eight pre-school children and one child in a buggy were brought for a walk on the public road with two adults. Written permission to go on outings was not sought or given and the complainant thought that the road was hazardous.
Another's child was expelled from the service when he punched a younger child in the face.
The parent accused the service of inadequate supervision in the garden where there were lots of children of mixed ages.
Charlie Flanagan, Fine Gael spokesperson on children, said that the findings were a "matter of serious concern".
"It is essential that the proper protocol and standards be in place," he said. "There is no room for complacency.
"There should be strict penalties for breach of standards. Mr Flanagan said that there appeared to be a clear failure to adhere to the standards. "There can be no room for failure when it comes to child care," he said.
"It's another chapter of failure on the part of this Government."
Irene Gunning, from the Irish Preschool Play Association (IPPA), said that there was no condoning any of the lapses in care.
"It's a good job that we have inspectors to pick up the very bad cases," she said.
"It worries me the lack of inspections that are now going on due to the moratorium -- inspectors can't keep up with all the work. I'd welcome transparency in the system -- it's very important.
"The inspections are there for the good of children."
Ms Gunning said that the regulations should cover everybody, regardless of how many children they have undertaken to supervise.
"Childminders are obliged to notify the authorities, but how do they know?" she said. "With the Celtic Tiger there were more people who used childminders over centre-based childcare. It's always really important that quality is monitored.
"These are reports, not ratings -- they are snapshots in time," she explained. "It's very good that parents make the complaints. The inspector doesn't tell you that they're coming -- it's unannounced. It's not frills or icing. It's good and right for the child."