THE owner of a childcare facility on the outskirts of the city has pleaded guilty to several breaches of childcare regulations.
Fiona Doheny of Tí Na Leanaí, Toureen Ballysimon, appeared before Limerick Court on foot of a prosecution brought by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Judge Eugene O’Kelly was told all of the offences were detected during a routine inspection of the childcare facility which was conducted on February 27, last.
The judge was told at the time Ms Doheny was a registered childminder which allows her to mind up to five children in her own home.
She was also registered to provide a sessional Montessori service at a converted garage adjacent to her home.
However, on the day the inspection was conducted, it transpired she was running a full day-care service for up to 15 children.
Pre-school inspector, Marie O’Riordan, said one of the breaches related to the fact that the defendant had not informed the HSE of the changes.
“Childcare providers are obliged to inform us what type of service they are operating,” she said adding that different regulations govern the operation of full day-care facilities.
Ms O’Riordan said another breach of regulations related to the keeping of proper records.
She told the court that Ms Doheny had no records relating to the 12 children who were at the creche on the day and that there was no staff roster available.
When asked by Judge O’Kelly, the inspector said the children at the creche seemed content and the premises were clean and child-friendly.
Ms O’Riordan was accompanied by a colleague during the inspection who said another of the breaches related to sleeping facilities for the children.
Pre-school inspector, Jane Hayes, said she came across one child who was asleep on a high chair while another toddler was asleep on a bean-bag.
Ms Hayes told the court that bean-bags are not regarded as being suitable for sleeping and that she observed the child who was asleep in the high chair being woken by another child who was playing in the same room. The judge was told that Ms Hayes encountered a third child who was asleep in a sleeping room.
While the child had been placed in a cot in accordance with best practice, his shoes had not been removed and he had a hood over his head, which, she said, created a “significant risk of overheating”.
Ms Hayes also noted that while the sleeping monitor attached to the child’s cot was turned on, the receiver which was located in another area of the creche was not.
Judge O’Kelly was told that a member of staff had completed a sleep-check record in the presence of Ms Hayes without checking on the children.
Judge O’Kelly was told that Ms Doheny has sought expert advice and a 30-page report prepared by Dr Mary Moloney was submitted to the court.
The judge indicated he would need some time to read the report and he agreed to adjourn the case to facilitate the attendance of Dr Moloney in court.
Solicitor Muiris Gavin, representing the HSE, asked that copy of the report be forwarded to the executive before the next court date.