Children have been locked in sheds and rooms, suffered bites and bruises, and been left behind at the end of the day while in childcare.
The Ministry of Education received 247 complaints against early childhood education services in 2012, with incidents ranging from minor procedural complaints to a claim from a parent that “a sexual act” happened involving her son at his centre.
There were 43 complaints not upheld by the ministry due to allegations not being substantiated.
An early childhood education expert said she was shocked about the secrecy around complaints and called for a more transparent complaints process so the history of a centre was available to both current and potential parents.
Fairfax reported in February that neighbours had to break into a Samoan Early Education Development Service centre in Porirua to rescue a crying baby left behind in a cot until about an hour after closing.
It can now be revealed that the ministry received a complaint about another child left asleep at a different centre as it was being closed for the day, just months before, in December last year.
A list of 2012 complaints, made by parents, grandparents, and even random members of the public, was obtained through the Official Information Act by Child Forum chief executive Sarah Farquhar, who is calling for the information to be more publicly available.
“We can’t move quality forward if stuff happens and nobody knows about it,” she said. “It is a case of not wanting to know that this type of thing happens but it does.”
Ms Farquhar believed there was no set protocol for dealing with complaints, and it seemed the ministry often “took the word of the service that things were fine”.
But the ministry’s early learning deputy secretary, Rawiri Brell, said the safety and wellbeing of children was its first priority and serious incidents were investigated immediately.
More than 195,000 children attended early childhood services and the vast majority were cared for without incident or injury.
“But incidents can happen and when they do, most are managed effectively by the service,” she said.
Complaints were not available through the Education Review Office, which Ms Farquhar said meant many services that were the subject of complaints had satisfactory reports.
Parents often did not complain for fear they would lose a spot in their centre, so it was important proper investigations were carried out when they did, she said.
Ms Farquhar recommended the ministry publicly release full reports on any centres under investigation.
Introducing unscheduled, on-site visits would also be “a way to go to give parents confidence”.
New Zealand Childcare Association chief executive Nancy Bell said she was an advocate for transparency but it was complex balancing natural justice with the rights of parents to know.
She encouraged parents to raise concerns firstly with the service and then the ministry.
New Zealand Kindergartens chief executive Clare Wells trusted the ministry’s processes and believed there may be privacy reasons for not publicly releasing information on complaints.
If a complaint was upheld, it raised questions about a centre’s policies and she hoped procedures would be reviewed.
- Children locked in rooms and a child “accidentally” locked in a shed.
- Several complaints about children running away without the centre knowing.
- A centre owner’s husband alleged to be behaving inappropriately.
- A staff member involved in drug taking.
- A child suffering a rope burn and bruising after being left in a swing to go to sleep.
- A parent concerned about a sexual act happening at her son’s centre, with her son being involved.
- Several complaints of teachers slapping children.
- Staff not giving a child his prescribed medicine at lunch-time.
Source Article from http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/childcare-complaints-reveal-horrific-incidents-5633711?ref=rss
Childcare complaints reveal horrific incidents
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