Would your nursery cope with an unexpected drop-off?

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A nursery in Sussex was forced to call the police after a Grandfather dropped off 2-year-old Lexi Francis and left before staff realized she did not attend their setting.

Staff took Lexi and let her start playing with other toddlers, before realising the mistake.  Despite calls to other nurseries, they were unable to establish where she should be, and resorted to calling the local Brighton police for assistance.

Anne Cox, headteacher of Queen’s Park Primary and Nursery School, said: ‘The child was dropped off at 1.15pm outside of normal drop off time to a member of staff who was covering for a sick colleague.
‘It was quickly realised the child does not attend our nursery and we acted swiftly to raise the alarm and chased after the grandparent.

‘When this was unsuccessful the police were called at 1.35pm. The police asked us to look after the child until 3.15pm which we did.

‘The child was then taken to the police station and then onto the mother. We have very strong safe guarding procedures in place and our staff worked extremely hard to ensure the child was safe and reunited with her parent.’

A Sussex Police spokesman said: ‘Police were called at 1.35pm on Monday October 7 to report that a child had been dropped off at a nursery school who did not usually attend the nursery.

‘It was reported about 15 to 20 minutes after she had been dropped off. Officers attended the school around 3pm when the child was not collected and was taken to John Street police station.

‘Other local nurseries were contacted and the child was identified. Her mum was contacted and she was returned home at 4.50pm.’

Lexi, was reunited with her mother, Lisa Francis, 28, who said the toddler escaped unscathed, but criticized the nursery for accepting her daughter without noticing she was not a usual attendee.

Miss Francis said: ‘I was incredibly surprised to get a call from the police saying they had my two-year-old daughter – you don’t expect that until she is at least 16. I think it is incredibly worrying it was not noticed at first, that she was not one of their usual children. I was incredibly shocked. Thankfully she was okay.’

This story comes shortly after a 74-year-old grandfather visited a Kent school to collect his 6-year-old granddaughter for a doctor’s appointment.  A mistake led to the wrong child being presented to him, taken on a bus journey, seeing the doctor and having medicine prescribed, before being returned to school.

The grandfather was said to be “very short-sighted” and the girl shared the first name and hair colour as his granddaughter.

Are your safeguarding procedures robust enough?

Are you confident your procedures would prevent a similar event happening at your nursery?  Would you consider this scenario as part of your planning?

We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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16 thoughts on “Would your nursery cope with an unexpected drop-off?

  • October 25, 2013 at 10:22 am
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    I think in the first case there too much hassle about nothing. The child was safe all the time. Even the temporary staff didn’t know her this does not put a child into danger. If this kind of case happens once in every 20 years should not be worry about at all. The mum holds all responsibility when she did not clarify where the child should be dropped off. She should have ask the grandfather where her child was instead of waiting for the police call. I cannot see any stage when the child could have been harmed.
    In the second one when the child was given to the wrong person is much more scary. Just imagine if the grandparents taking the child for a hospital operation. What would been the outcome then?!!!

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  • October 17, 2013 at 11:38 am
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    Although I agree that the parent and grandfather were at fault, the setting must always bare the responsibility. The situation was handled as best as it could have been at the time. However it does highlight the importance of only allowing experienced members of staff who know all their children to open the door and welcome parents/carers and their children into the setting. A cautionary tale.!!

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  • October 16, 2013 at 9:59 am
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    From a safeguarding point of view, it would be important to me firstly to ensure that only core team members who recognise all of the children and families of the Nursery are those responsible for allowing all persons in/out of the building. Taking this failing into account however, and examining actions beyond this point, I do believe the Nursery acted in the best interest of the child. Obviously as a setting you have rigorous checks so that only known children are left on-site, however given that the initial error of accepting an unknown child was made – and that the person dropping them off did leave before the error was realised as such – the setting did take the best approach possible in minimising the stress of the situation as far as the child was concerned, and acted to ensure that although they had been dropped at the wrong Nursery that the child’s safety was not put into further question.

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  • October 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm
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    The nursery should have very strict policies and procedures regarding supply staff, admissions and departures…
    If they didn’t , then they now need to review and revise all their safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure this never happens again!

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  • October 15, 2013 at 9:04 am
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    Laura, I don’t think this mother has any ‘parenting skills’ as she is expecting phone calls from the police once her daughter is sixteen!!!!

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  • October 15, 2013 at 7:45 am
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    Also she wants to be thanking the nursery they acted quickly and did the rigjt thing and kept the child safe more than the so called grandfather. Sounds as though her child would have been a lot safer and better cared for in the nursery than with him anyway.

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  • October 15, 2013 at 7:43 am
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    I’m sorry never mind the nursery the grandfather is the one she wants to be criticising here! Theres no way I would ever leave my child with a relative who did something like this again. Thankfully this story had a pleasant outcome but the reality may have been very different

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  • October 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm
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    @ Kate.
    Of course the Nursery is to blame! Could this happen in your setting?
    I once had a child’s relative try to bring a child to my setting for a ‘settling-in’ visit. The staff member did not recall the child’s name being on our list and immediately called my Manager for confirmation. After talking to the relative, the Manager realised that the child was probably booked in at another, very close-by, Nursery and, after phoning the Manager of that Nursery to confirm this, she directed the relative to it.

    You cannot blame either the parents, or the Grandparent, if you do not know the whole story about what went wrong – but yes, you can blame the Nursery for allowing a ‘cover’ member of staff to admit a child who s/he did not know.

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  • October 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm
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    Whilst I am happy that the child was kept safe etc, surely there were other staff present in the setting when the child was dropped off – and absolutely for sure, a temporary/cover member of staff who does not know all of the children should not have been letting in a child? That is very un-professional!
    That would never happen in my setting, and should not have happened in this case.
    However, I am even more concerned about the story mentioned at the end, about a Grandfather in Kent being given the ‘wrong’ 6 year old child to take to a GP appointment!

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  • October 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm
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    Agreeing with Kate and Kelly – surely its the parents responsibility to ensure her child attended the correct setting. Clearly her instructions to the grandfather were flawed from the start. Im not a great fan of day nurseries as it is but in this instance I think the nursery did the correct thing. Blaming the nursery – pathetic – look at your own parenting skills. Lisa Francis is lucky her child got dropped at any nursery opposed to elsewhere. Atleast they knew how to provide care for her child. If anything she should be grateful they didn’t charge her for their time.

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  • October 14, 2013 at 5:14 pm
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    Well the child was kept safe and the incident it was quickly acted upon, but I wonder if the Nursery will now be subject to investigation and marked as inadequate or suspended as others have been even though following correct procedures!

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  • October 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm
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    The nursery did the right thing they acted quickly, and followed the correct procedures, they also kept the child safe. You must remember the member of staff who accepted the child was covering but the question is why was a cover staff who does not know the children and their families so well opening the door to welcome children. Measures that may prevent this include having a list and photos of the children who attend that day/session along with a 1st name so that children who usually attend the setting on that day/session can be identified and children who do not attend the setting and/or session will also be recognised.

    Parents also should inform other people who care for their child clearly what nursery/preschool/school their child attends perhaps writing down the name and address of the setting to avoid confusion and mistakes.

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  • October 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm
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    I find it disgusting the mother has tried to blame the nursery!
    1. The member of staff that took child was covering for the usual sick staff member, therefore she may not know all the children in the care of that particular staff member
    2. It clearly states the staff run after the grandfather so, therefore the staff realised within minutes
    3. Why didnt the mother make sure the grandfather knew which nursery to leave the child with
    4.instead of passing blame why hasnt the mother gone to the nursery to apologise for her mistake and thank the staff for their appropriate reaponse and care of her daughter!
    5. Why hasnt she once blamed the grandfather!

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  • October 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm
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    Well said Kate Stevens. It is ultimately the responsability of the parent to advise whoever is dropping her child off at nursery to ensure they have the correct setting, i would question the suitability to look after a child, any person who has made such an error in the event that the correct information was given, and i suspect that the reason the parent has blamed the nursery is because she feels guilty about what happened and finds it easier to apportion blame elsewhere. I do feel though, that for continuity of care, the grandfather should, at some point have attended the setting with the parent in order to get to know the staff and setting well enough to be confident dropping them off!

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  • October 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm
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    Did the nursery not have a room register in place?

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  • October 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm
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    Blame the nursery again, no thought to the responsibility of the mother to inform whoever dropped her child off which nursery it was.

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