Missing Child Policy and Procedures
- All exits from the premises are locked or guarded in a way that makes it impossible for a child to leave unobserved /unattended, while allowing rapid exit for the whole group in case of emergency.
- An accurate up-to-date register is kept of both children and adults. Visitors sign in and out on arrival and departure.
- Parents and staff work together for the safety of all children in the group. Parents will be invited to play an active role by being made aware of the group safety, e.g. arrival and departure procedures. They will be encouraged to alert a member of staff if they notice a child whose behaviour suggests that s/he might be thinking of trying to leave.
In the best regulated situations, however, accidents can and do happen. These procedures are to be followed if a child cannot be found
- Find out quickly
The chances of finding a missing child safe are greatest if a child’s absence is discovered promptly. The supervisor will inform members of staff how many children are present at each session. They will also be responsible for regular counted checks.
- Search systematically
The nursery is responsible for the missing child and also for other children in the group. One advantage of our high adult: child ratio is that in any emergency an adult can be freed to respond to the situation without neglecting the needs of the other children who will be gathered together – having a story perhaps – whilst a search is undertaken.
- Check that all the adults present are aware of the situation. Establish when the child was last seen and what were they doing.
- Ask the children whether they have seen the missing child, without alarming them.
- Check every room in the building and the accessible outside area.
Call the child’s parents to alert them to the fact that their child may be attempting to return home; do this by causing them as little alarm as possible. If they are at work, the nursery will have an alternative number to call in emergencies.
If the child lives within walking distance, one adult will make the journey on foot in order to catch up with or intercept the child if possible.
Remember that as soon as parents have been informed they will need advice and support.
- 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.
- Informing Other People
Make regular checks to ensure that if an incident of this sort does happen, all the necessary phone numbers are to hand and they are correct and up to date.
- If the police are called, inform Ofsted and the duty officer at West Berkshire Social Services department.
They will need to know:
- What systems operate at nursery to prevent 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, she must be informed as soon as possible.
- Call the nursery’s insurance company (Telephone number: 020 87686700
- The incident report
Start building up a record of the event as soon as possible. This is important, even if, as is likely, the child is found safe within a few minutes. The incident report provides an invaluable ongoing record. Include the last definite sighting of the child and anything unusual that day about the behaviour of that child or any other children.
- Dealing with people’s reactions
The child’s parents will be frightened, distressed and probably angry. If in the past the group has talked through safety issues with parents, sharing concerns and establishing systems with which the group and parents feel comfortable, the situation will be easier for all of the adults as they will be working within a framework of mutual trust and understanding.
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 our policy to word all comments using the structured system below:
- Express how sorry we are that the incident has happened
- That a full investigation is in hand
- That the social services have been informed and will also be investigating
- Dealing with Media
The Head Teacher and/or Deputy will be responsible for speaking on behalf of the group to the media. However, we are aware that reporters may not approach the group directly. Therefore, we will advise all adults at the earliest opportunity about what they should say, asking them to refer all enquires to our agreed spokesperson.
- Informing Other Parents
A brief, factual statement regarding the incident will be provided as soon as possible to all other parents. We will achieve this by sending a note home with each child.
We would seek to enlist the support of the whole nursery community in learning from the event in order to ensure it does not happen again.
- When the child is found
When the child has been located it is important to remember:
- That the child might have been very afraid and distressed and may 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 children to ensure they have understood that they must not leave the premises, and why.
OFSTED will be informed of any resulting serious illness or fatality.
Review date: September 2020