A catalogue of allegations in childcare centres

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Painful injuries, children playing unattended outside, contaminated drinking water and childminders looking after too many youngsters.

These were some of the red flags raised by members of the public and environmental health officers over Bermuda’s nurseries and other childcare services.

A public access to information disclosure from the Department of Health gave details of 13 complaints made between May 31, 2015 and June 1, 2016, with all information which could identify individual childcare centres removed.

The records did not reveal how some of the complaints were dealt with or if environmental health officers were satisfied with the action taken by the childcare services involved.

Verlina Bishop, an information officer at the Department of Health, said the complaints were anonymised because they contained personal information which those involved had not been told in advance could be made public.

She wrote in a letter: “It is important to note that the Department of Environmental Health does not have a call centre for complaints and accidents. In general, individual inspectors may receive a complaint from a parent.

“Often this is some time after an incident and their child has left the provider or centre.

“These complaints are not often placed in the file, given this time delay.

“Depending on the nature of the complaint, other agencies may receive complaints from parents/guardians directly.”

The complaints:

• A child protection referral was made after a boy’s mother complained she had found an unexplained welt on his inner thigh.

A physical abuse investigation was carried out and the complaint deemed to be “unsubstantiated” because there was no medical support to indicate the source of the swelling.

•A mother complained after her daughter suffered two injuries at nursery: a “busted” lip and chin while disembarking from a minibus and a sprained ankle.

• A mother complained about her son being left out for long periods in hot sun and receiving a cut mouth and bump on the head after falling off play equipment.

She said staff informed her of the injuries through the social media service WhatsApp, sending two photos and a “voice message with inappropriate laughing and unprofessional behaviour”.

• A member of the public contacted the department after seeing two young boys climbing play equipment to scale a wall and retrieve a ball from the street.

An investigation found the boys were not pupils but the children of a teacher, a situation which Environmental Health Officer Tache King told the nursery was “unacceptable”.

She warned the proprietor not to let children play unattended outside and to address the safety matter immediately by changing the location of the play equipment or raising the barrier wall.

• A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting a toddler playing outside alone in bad weather at a childcare facility.

Environmental Health Officer Crystal Baxter described the incident involving a one-and-a-half-year-old child as a “dangerous occurrence” and told the nursery to improve its building safety, playground safety protocols and staff vetting.

• A joint inspection by environmental health and Child and Family Services found that a childcare facility with eight registered pupils aged between 3 and 4 was being operated with only one member of staff, despite a ratio of 1:4 being required for that age group.

It was also operating without a valid licence. A warning was issued to meet the correct staff-to-child ratio at all times, improve the cleanliness of the bathroom and renew CPR first aid certification.

• A daycare provider was reminded that she was only allowed to care for three children in her home after an investigation found she was looking after five.

She was warned that if the numbers were not reduced, the matter would be referred to the acting Chief Environmental Health Officer.

• Water samples revealed an unacceptable level of contamination in the drinking water at four childcare services. The proprietors were told to clean their tanks by Environmental Health Officer Carla Peets.

• A childcare centre was found to have unacceptable contamination of the drinking water and was also told by Ms Peets to update its first-aid kit and provide the Environmental Health Officer with a sick child policy and discipline policy.

• A childcare provider was told to update its first-aid kit and provide Ms Peets with a sick child policy and discipline policy.

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Published Aug 24, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 28, 2018 at 11:41 am)

A catalogue of allegations in childcare centres

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