Sign in processes need to be tightened, parents say, in wake of recent bus incident

Sign in processes need to be tightened, parents say, in wake of recent bus incident

by Freya Lucas

May 31, 2022

In the wake of toddler Nevaeh Austin being left on a bus after being transported to her early childhood service, and the death of a boy in 2020 after he was left on a bus outside a service in Cairns, many parents have concerns about the strictness of transportation and sign in procedures at early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.

 

Recently the ABC prepared a piece outlining parental concerns, with one parent expressing her fears about a service she had previously used, and its processes around taking children out of the centre for excursions or to attend swimming lessons. 

 

“I know they did a head count when leaving the pool for example but I don’t think there were any protocols for signing them back into their rooms or double checking they did actually get off the bus.”

 

Having since moved to a school-based setting, and utilising after-school care, the parent has noted a more streamlined approach, which she feels would serve ECEC well. 

 

“We have a son in grade one this year and he attends after school care,” she explained. 

 

“Both of us parents get a notification on our phones as soon as he is signed in by a staff member and then when the other parent collects him. If we forget to tell them he’s not attending for some reason, we get a text message within minutes and then they follow up with a phone call.”

 

Another Brisbane parent described a “significant” difference between long day care centres and community kindergartens.

 

“As the drop-off and pick-up times are consistent in a community kindy and the days for the families are set, educators get to know the families better and the families also start to know each other,” she said.

 

The flexibility of long day care services, she continued, means that children are exposed to multiple adults, some of whom “you don’t even know”.

 

“This is what is the drawcard for working parents having longer hours and flexible drop-off and pick-up times but it does make building the relationship with the carers and other families difficult,” she explained. 

 

Each parent flagged further concerns, noting that in many cases, there are no protocols in place for when children are scheduled to be in care but are absent, something which they believe could further prevent children being left behind or overlooked on buses. 

 

Currently there is no legislative requirement for parents/carers to contact an ECEC service to advise if a child is not attending on a scheduled day under the Education and Care Services National Law.

 

The Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF) advises that services should develop a combination of systems that show when each child is absent, is in attendance or has left for the day, however processes and procedures around when and how this is carried out vary from service to service. 

 

To access the original coverage of this story, please see here

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