Childcare centre fined after child was left behind at excursion

Stock image.
Stock image.

A PERTH childcare centre has been fined $9000 after a five-and-a-half year old child was left behind at an excursion.

Quinns Baptist Community Care at 8 Salerno Drive in Mindarie was also ordered to pay $1000 in legal costs.

The matter was referred to the State Administrative Tribunal in March.

On Thursday January 17 this year, the child was left behind “completely unsupervised by educators from the service at an excursion venue” from approximately 11.17am until 12.30pm.

Twenty-eight children and four educators attended the venue from 10am for a one-hour session.

At 11am the children gathered to board the bus to leave.

According to facts agreed upon by the parties, an educator looked at a list of the attending children and “purported to sight” all of them.

The man did not, however, call out the names or seek acknowledgement of the children’s presence, or record in writing the sighting of the children.

No count was made of the children getting on the bus at around 11:14am and there was also no count of the children made when they got off the bus.

About 12:10pm, while the children were having lunch, staff counted 27 children present.

A subsequent roll-call established that a child was missing.

A supervisor returned to the excursion venue and picked up the child about 12:30pm.

Procedure review

Quinns BCC reviewed all its policies and procedures after the incident to spell out requirements and expectations of educators in supervising children, including matters specific to supervision of children on excursions.

Among the improvements made were:

– Children and educators now wear more visible identifying clothing on excursions.

– In its induction and team orientation Quinns BCC now provides more detailed and in-depth instructions on how to do roll calls and head counts, and in its application for employment pack provides more details of what is expected of staff regarding supervision of children.

– The centre revised its risk assessment and excursion checklist to include explicit instructions on when and how to do head counts and roll calls. It has also provided educators with hand-held digital counters to assist with the headcounts of children, and purchased another digital tablet to facilitate roll calls and for children signing in and out of the care of the Service. One tablet has mobile data capacity for use on excursions.

Quinns BCC held a Service Team meeting on April 9, focusing on safety in light of the incident.

The leadership have held informal meetings with individual staff to follow-up the importance of safety and supervision, and continue to email the team to highlight the significance of headcounts, roll calls and full disclosure.