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Nursery makes changes after children escape

No comment: First Church of God Bishop Vernon Lambe declined to say anything (File photograph by Glenn Tucker)

A nursery where three toddlers wandered off on their own has made improvements in a bid to prevent a repeat.

Among changes at the daycare centre in Pembroke are thought to be repairs to a gate, new doors and an improved security system.

The moves came after two-year-olds at the First Church of God Nursery, near North Shore Road, were found playing on a building site about 15 minutes after they left the preschool.

Government officials were called in to investigate and a health department spokesman said yesterday measures have been put in place to stop the same thing happening again.

Although no further details were provided by the daycare centre, one mother, who asked not to be named, said she was informed of the improvements last week.

The woman added: “I can’t believe anything until I actually see it happening. They seemed sincere about it, but I have to see actual evidence, I can’t believe someone’s word.”

The 29-year-old said she had not sent her son to the nursery since the incident last month and has instead managed to ensure she and his father can fit care around their working hours.

She added she had still to decide on a long-term option and was concerned about the boy missing out on regular contact with children the same age.

The mother said: “It has been very difficult actually, our whole life has been changed around.

“We have to have him home, as we have to consider other childcares that are safe. We don’t have much faith in childcare after that happened. It’s quite worrisome.

“Do we send him somewhere else or do we send him back to that nursery where he is already established and settled?”

It is believed the toddlers crossed a busy road and walked through a car park before they were spotted and rescued by residents in the area.

A Ministry of Health spokesman said: “As part of the investigation, Department of Health officials have met with the daycare centre operator and received updates.

“Policies and procedures operational within the centre have been reviewed and modified and certain structural and operational improvements have been implemented to ensure there will not be a recurrence of any similar incident.

“The department is considering all the facts and response to the investigation in determining next steps, which will be communicated to the operator in due course.”

After the incident, which happened on July 24, another traumatised mother told The Royal Gazette she had dropped off her child at 8.50am before going to work.

She said she was contacted about two hours later by a friend, who sent a photograph of her daughter and two other children and explained they had been found by a family “on a construction site”.

The trio had made their way to a property on nearby Crane Lane where building work was taking place.

They were seen by local resident Shirlequa Simons, who heard the toddlers’ voices and looked out of a window to see the children “in a trench”.

The 21-year-old beauty therapist added: “I dropped everything and just ran.”

She stood on a plank to lift the children out before she and her brother, Dashae, 29, returned them to the nursery.

Miss Simons said: “It was just a crazy situation.”

She added that her neighbour was carrying out building work and that “he’s got a lot of stuff back there — he’s got metal rods, he’s got the mixer. Anything could have happened to them.”

The toddler’s shocked mother said the severity of the incident had been downplayed by nursery staff, but stressed at the time: “It could have been three minutes, they could have been hit by a car.”

She added: “They could have been gone 15 seconds and someone could have kidnapped them.

“They’re so tiny, if someone in a car had hit them they probably wouldn’t even know it was a toddler. They could have thought it was a cat — they’re just babies.”

Denniqua Matthew, the nursery’s director, yesterday directed inquiries to the church’s Bishop Vernon Lambe, who declined to comment.