PROCEDURES FOR WHEN A CHILD LEAVES THE GROUP UNACCOMPANIED
This should never happen, and very rarely does. Little Crickets Ltd has in place the following systems for the protection of children.
* It is imperative for the safety of all children that when children are not being
collected by the usual adult known to the nursery staff the following procedures
must be used. If these procedures are not followed then Little Crickets Ltd
will not be allowed to release the child to an unknown adult.
* An agreement be made with regard to the collection arrangements prior to the
new person collecting the child
* An individually agreed password decided with the manager or staff in the
nursery in advance
* Little Crickets Ltd will have notice preferably in writing or, if this is
impossible due to circumstances, for instance if a train was delayed and a relative,
not known to the nursery was asked by the parent/guardian to collect the child,
then a unique password should be in place.
* All exits from the premises are locked/guarded in a way which makes it
impossible for a child to leave unobserved/unattended, while allowing rapid exit
for the whole group in case of an emergency.
* An accurate and up to date register is kept and both adults and children, including
visitors, are signed in and out when they enter and leave the premises
* Key workers of new children should take special care to ensure that both children
and their parents know where they may and may not go. Key workers will also
seek advice from parents new to the group so that they are forewarned about
particularly adventurous children
* All children in the group will be told the rules, and the reasons for them
* Prominent notices alert any visitors to the need to keep doors closed and to the
reason for this
* A risk assessment will be carried out on the premises regularly in consultation with
parents so that all adults in the group are aware of any potential dangers and can
work together to avoid them
* Parents and staff should work together for the safety of all the children in the
New parents should be helped to take an active role by being made aware of the
groups safety procedures and being encouraged to alert a member of staff if they
notice a child whose behaviour suggests that s/he might be thinking of trying to
* Advice will be sought from Ofsted.
In the best regulated situations, however, accidents can and do happen. These are the procedures to
follow if you cannot find a child.
1. Find out quickly
The chances of finding a missing child safe are greatest if the child’s absence is soon discovered. Know
how many children should be present and make someone responsible for regular counted checks. The
key worker system offers enormous advantages as it is very easy for a key worker to be aware of the few
children for whom s/he is especially responsible - and if one seems to be missing, the key worker will know
at once who it is.
2. Search systematically
The group is responsible for the missing child and also for the other children in the group. One advantage
of the high adult: child ratio in nurseries is that in an emergency some adults can be freed to respond to
the new situation without neglecting the needs of the other children. It can be useful to gather the
remaining children into one large group - having a story, perhaps with one adult- while the rest search
Without alarming them, ask the other children themselves whether they have seen the missing child.
They can sometimes be a useful source of information.
Check that all the adults are present and that all know the problem. It is useful to establish, if you can,
who last saw the child, when and doing what. It can also be helpful to have prepared in advance a checklist
of possible hiding places in and around the settings premises.
Check every room in the building and also any accessible outside area.
Seek the co-operation of the school on the grounds
Alarming them as little as possible, call the child’s parents to warn them that their child may be attempting
to get home. If they are out or at work, the group should have an alternative number to call in
emergencies. If the child lives within walking distance of the group, one adult should make the journey on
foot to catch up with or intercept the child if possible. Remember that as soon as parents are informed,
they will need advice and support.
4. The Police
If the above steps do not locate the child, the police must be called. They have the resources to conduct
a search and speed is important.
5. Informing other people
Make regular checks to ensure that if an incident of this sort does happen, you have all the necessary
phone numbers at hand - correct, up to date and kept all together
If you must call the police, tell the Social Services Department that you have done so. If the relevant social
worker is not in the building, leave a message with the duty officer.
The Social Services will need to know:
* What systems you operate for preventing such occurrences
* What happened
* What you did, at what time and in what order
* Whom you informed, and when
They will want to conduct their own investigation.
If the owner is not on the premises s/he must be informed as soon as possible
Call the insurance company, They will advise you
6. Accident & Incident book
Start to build up a record of the event as soon as an adult has time to do so. This is important, even if, as
is likely, the child is found safe within a few minutes. The accident and incident book provides an
invaluable ongoing record of potential hazards as well as actual incidents. Include in the record the last
definite sighting of the child and anything unusual that day about the behaviour of that child or of any
7. Dealing with other people’s reactions
The child’s parents will be frightened, distressed and probably angry. These feelings are natural. If, in the
past the group has talked through safety issues with parents, sharing concerns and establishing systems
with which both group and parents feel comfortable, the situation will be easier for all the adults because
they will be working within a framework of mutual trust and understanding.
Because powerful emotions are involved, people’s behaviour can be unpredictable. People who seem quite calm about the incident at the time can later become very angry, threatening legal action or recourse to the local press.
It is therefore important to be very careful from the beginning about the words you use to talk to people about the incident. Do not say anything which might invalidate your insurance by implying that you accept liability. However, that does not that you have to appear uncaring. Do not say “no comment” which can make you appear indifferent and unhelpful.
* How sorry you are that the incident has happened
* that a full investigation is in hand
* that the Social Services Department have been informed and will also be Investigating
8. Dealing with the media
Distressed parents may contact the local press, or reporters might hear about the incident if the police
are involved. It is sensible for one person - the owner- to be the one who speaks for the group to the
media. However, you cannot be sure that reporters will not approach the group direct: they may call other
staff or parents for views. As early as you can, advise all adults to refer all enquiries to the owner, the
In handling this situation, you will have support from the Pre-School Learning Alliance. If you speak to the
insurance manager at the National Centre, s/he will alert you your regional centre, who will in turn, inform
local staff and volunteers as appropriate.
9. Informing other parents
Other parents need to be given brief, accurate information as rapidly as possible. This is the best way to
prevent the spreading of gossip. It might be possible to call a short meeting when parents and carers come
to collect children, or when they arrive the next day, or to send home a note with each child.
There is no point in trying to hide what has happened. The important thing is to enlist the support of the
whole nursery community in learning from the event in order to ensure that it does not happen again.
Be sure in advance of such an event that the group is aware of any procedures required by the registering
When the child is found
During the time a child is missing, however briefly, all the adults involved - parents and others - suffer
great fear, guilt and distress, it is not always easy to control all these emotions when the child is found. It
is important to remember:
* That the child also might have been afraid and distressed and might now be in
need of comfort
* That the child may be completely unaware of having done anything wrong
* That the incident provides a good opportunity to talk to all the children to ensure
that they understand that they must not leave the premises, and why.
This policy will be reviewed annually by the Day Care Manager