Service provider Wanslea Early Learning and Development Limited, trading as Wanslea Beaconsfield Outside School Hours Care, was ordered to pay $12,000, and $1,000 towards costs, by the State Administrative Tribunal for contravention of section 165(1) of the Education and Care Service National Law (WA) Act, following an incident in February of this year.
In addition to this, Wanslea was ordered to pay an additional $1,000 for contravention of regulation 170(1) of the Education and Care Services National Regulations, for failing to follow their own emergency procedures for the same incident. This penalty represents the maximum penalty possible under the National Regulations for this contravention.
A Department of Communities investigation found that, at some time after 5.10pm on 22 February this year, a four-year-old boy left the service unsupervised and unnoticed by staff. The child was last sighted by staff between approximately 5:10pm and 5:15pm.
Staff only realised the child was missing at around 5.30pm, during their headcount.
Police were not alerted the to the missing child until 5.52pm, following management instruction to not contact the Police in contravention of the approved provider’s emergency procedures stating to contact 000 if a child cannot be located within 10 minutes.
The child was found by one of his parents at the front of their home at about 6.00pm. He had been found wandering the streets by an unknown adult female and male.
The child would have had to cross a number of roads, including a busy dual carriageway, to reach the house.
The child was missing from the service for between 35 and 50 minutes.
Quotes from Catherine Stoddart, Deputy Director General – Governance, Intelligence and Reform, Department of Communities
“This outcome should serve as a warning to providers in the childcare industry.
“Being approved to operate a childcare service in Western Australia carries with it significant responsibilities and obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children enrolled at the childcare service.
“It is a requirement under the Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012 that providers of childcare services must ensure that children are adequately supervised at all times while in the care of the service.
“It is important that childcare providers review their supervision policies and practices to ensure they are adequate and meet the individual needs of all children enrolled.
“Approved providers must consider the service surroundings, put in place effective risk assessments and conduct regular checks with ongoing reviews of staff practices and effectiveness of practices.
“The supervision policies and procedures must be robust and include frequent headcounts and premises checks- especially during transition times - to ensure all children are accounted for. Transition periods are particularly busy and approved providers must consider the risk associated with these periods and develop effective practices.
“Approved providers are responsible for ensuring their policies and procedures are embedded in their service practices.”
Media contact: Steve Worner 0418 918 299