Missing Children Policy
Aims & ethos
At Chingford House Nursery we are committed to providing the highest level of care and education; however, our focus starts with the child’s safety and wellbeing. We accept that parents entrust us with their children and therefore, we take the level of responsibility and trust seriously.
We understand our duty to keep the children safe from harm, and have devised various policies which outline the procedures to ensure children’s safety.
Procedures & routines:
There are two ways to enter and exit the nursery; the children from Poppies and Sunflowers (the two rooms with the youngest children) enter through the garden gate. The parents have to ring the respective bells to indicate that they have arrived. A member of staff comes to greet the family and then takes the child to their room.
Similarly, at the end of the day, the parents ring the bell to announce their arrival to collect their child and a member of staff brings the child out.
The children from Roses, Bluebells and Marigolds ring the main doorbell on arrival. The Manager tends to open the door and takes the children to their rooms; at the end of the day a member of staff brings the child to the parent. Both the gate and door are shut/locked securely by a member of staff after they have entered the building; it is unlikely that children can exit either way, unattended, without being detected.
There is a door to the lobby with a high handle and a door upstairs with a high handle so the children do not have access to the front door. In addition to this, staff conduct risk assessments checks to ensure that the gate is locked before the children have access to the outdoor play area.
We encourage children to keep themselves safe; some of this is done through registration and attendance; we ask all the children to self-register (from Baby room right through to Pre-school). The children are required to find their photo/name card and display it on the walls to highlight that they are at nursery.
When the children come to nursery, staff mark the time that they arrive in the register; this ensures that we know how many children are in attendance and what time they came.
When the children leave the room to go to the outdoor play area, the staff have to undertake a headcount and sign in the headcount book, so that they know how many children they have moving throughout the nursery.
There are times when children stay in other rooms - this may be due to staff shortages or periods of transition; in these instances, the children are signed into that room’s visitor’s book, so that children are always accounted for throughout the day.
At Chingford House Nursery we have put various strategies and processes in place to ensure that we know where the children are, as we understand that children can go missing at any time during the day.
The aim of this policy therefore is to ensure that staff and parents know what would happen in the unlikely and unfortunate event of a child going missing. It is important that everyone is clear about the procedure and know what to do should there be an incident.
A child who goes missing whilst at the nursery:
• The staff in the child’s room will check the immediate area where the child was last seen
• The staff will check the surrounding rooms and outdoor area
• If the child is not found, the member of staff will inform the Manager/Owner
• The Manager will redeploy some other staff to help look for the child (ensuring that all other children are still being supervised and that the staff/child ratios are still in place)
• The Manager will ensure that staff remain calm and are not seen to be panicking in front of other children and staff
• The Manager will remind the staff to keep in contact with each other throughout the search
• All areas of the nursery, both indoors and out, will be thoroughly searched
• All doors and gates will be checked to ensure that they are locked and that the child has not left the premises unattended
• If a door/gate has been left unsecured and it appears that the child may have left the premises, then a search of the outside perimeter will take place
• The Manager/Owner will also check the CCTV for any clues as to where the child may be
• If the child still cannot be located the Manager/Owner will contact the child’s parents and the Police to inform them that a child has gone missing after five minutes if we think that they have left the premises
• The Manager will have been gathering information throughout the search to pass onto the Police in the event that the child has not been found
• The Manager/Owner will meet with the parents once they arrive to inform them of the incident and that the Police have been contacted. The Police may also need to speak with the parents.
Information the Police will need:
• The child’s full name and any names/nicknames that the child is known by
• The parent’s names, whoever the child lives with and has parental responsibility
• A description of the child, including age, gender and full details of what they were wearing
• Any information that can provide clues to where the child might be; where they were last seen; if there were any issues prior to the disappearance and how long they have been missing for
• To know who is looking for the child and where they have looked
• The exact time that the child was last seen
• To review the CCTV
When staff take children on an outing, there are more safeguards in place to ensure that children are kept safe. There may be a higher ratio of adults to children if there are particular needs or behavioural issues.
Risk assessments are conducted so that staff are aware of any potential hazards and how to mitigate them.
The staff do a headcount of the children before they leave the premises and where appropriate talk to the children about the rules of keeping safe (i.e., holding hands, crossing the roads only when told, not to move away from the group). Staff conduct another headcount once they arrive at the venue. The children wear high-visibility jackets so that they are easily identified. Staff are assigned a certain number of children or particular children if there are any concerning needs.
A child who goes missing whilst on an outing:
• The staff will look for the child in the immediate area where they were last seen
• If the child is not found, then a wider search will be conducted; the staff will discuss who will stay with the children and how many staff will conduct the search for the missing child
• If the child is still not found, the staff will call the nursery to inform the Manager, who will then decide when the parents and Police should be called
• The Manager will start to gather information to pass onto the Police in the event that the child has not been found
• Where possible, the Manager/Owner will make arrangements to bring the other children back to the nursery if the search needs to be continued
• The Police will be given the information as detailed above
In both cases whether the child went missing at the nursery or on an outing, the Police will decide what to do next; the staff will co-operate and follow any
• The search will continue until the child has been found or until the Police informs the nursery to stop searching.
What happens next:
Once a missing child has been found, there are many questions that will need to be answered and what lessons can be learnt.
From the moment that a child goes missing to the time that they have been found, everything will be documented; this information will form part of an investigation which the Manager will conduct. The investigation proceedings will take place from the next working day.
The Early Years Team in Waltham Forest and Ofsted will both be notified as soon as possible and definitely within 14 days (EYFS welfare requirement). Any advice or guidance from either Waltham Forest or Ofsted will be heeded. The Police may conduct their own investigation in which the staff will fully co-operate.
It is also likely that the nursery’s Insurance company will have to be informed of the incident as well as the local authority’s Health & Safety team. A risk assessment may form part of the actions and recommendations following the investigation as a way of minimising the possibility of another child going missing. The Manager will send the outcome of the investigation to the parents, Waltham Forest and Ofsted as they may also have suggestions or recommendations.
Having a child go missing whilst in our care will be a traumatic experience for the staff and especially for the parents; Chingford House Nursery will offer supervision and support to the child, staff and parents in order to talk through the experience.
Policy created by: Yolande Farrell Manager
Signed off by: Zarkar Akhtar Owner
Date: October 2021 Date of next review: October 2022