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Can anyone help me please. I am trying to write a policy for parents/carers picking up a child when they are under he influence of drink/drugs who may also become aggressive towards staff and i can't seem to get the wording right. It is for a Pre-chool. Any help would be apriciated. Thanks

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We are in the process of adding this to our child collection policy which covers what we do if the child has not been collected. we too are finding wording difficult. So far we have produced the following ...but feel it is not quite right yet, any firther help with wording or content needed greatfully appreciated..

 

'If anyone collecting a child from pre-school appears to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, we reserve the right to not allow the child to leave with that person.

 

In this instance we will contact the person named as emervgency contact on the registration form to come and collect the child. If however we are unable to contact a suitable person to collect the child we will have to contact Social Services.'

 

Inge

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interesting and fully understand the need for such a policy, I have often thought about this, but not (until tomorrow xD ) written one.

 

I am going to contact Law call ( as a member of the PLA) for advice, I'm not sure if we can legally refuse a parent ( who is the legal guardian) of taking their child. I would however clearly inform the parent that in the interest of the child, which is paramount, I will be contacting police and social services should they leave the premises with their child whilst under the influence of drugs/alcohol. Police, I think are the only people who have a right to take children from parents.( don't social services have to contact police if they need to take a child into protective care?) You don't want to be accused of abducting the child :o

 

I would try and encourage the parent to stay, if safe to do so, so that he/she could leave safely with their child, in the care of emergency contact person.

 

and yes, the next consideration is if anyone becomes aggresive, what is the procedure to ensure everyones safety.

 

 

Peggy

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I agree Peggy: I'm sure we don't have the legal right to withhold a child. We do have a duty of care to the child though: so contacting social services or the police would be the route to take in this case.

 

With regard to 'confronting' parents about their fitness to take charge of their child, I think its important to make sure that staff members are not alone when these conversations take place. People under the influence are by nature unpredictable and to have a lone member of staff dealing with such situations. So your procedures should spell out what steps you can take to minimise the risk posed to your staff.

 

Isn't it sad that we even have to think about these situations?

 

Peggy: for those of us who are non-members of the PLA, it would be interesting to hear what they have to say.

 

Maz

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quote "Peggy: for those of us who are non-members of the PLA, it would be interesting to hear what they have to say."

 

Hey Maz, I've paid my subscription :( Of course I'd be glad to share :)

 

Good point re : not to deal with alone, and need to consider someone to take children as far away from any " aggressive" incident.

 

Has anyone ever experienced this sort of thing?

 

I did once, aggressive father, no alcohol/drugs but a seperation issue, I luckily have an intercom system so he was unable to access the building, not very nice experience though and we had to be vigilant when staff member arrived and left work ( ex partner) The staff member had to leave in the end :oxD

 

 

Peggy

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This surely makes it a child protecion issue. Yes it is a shame that we even have to think of things like this , sadly a sign of the times. Thanks for the input i await your reply Peggy Thanks

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I have been asked to post this on behalf of a friend, who had a very unpleasant experience but feels prompted to share with you-----------

 

"Hi there. I had an incident some time ago with an aggressive drunk father. He didnt have access to the child and our policy was to take the child to a safe distance (the Heads office in this case). This left me alone with him. He was at this point drunk but seemed harmless. He then turned aggressive, pulling a knife and threatening me.

I wont go into the details but it was a very scary and unpleasent experience.

 

We had a major review of our security arrangements and I have gone through this situation a thousand times in my head. Should I have handed the chid over? We have pretty much the same arrangements now, to remove the child in this event, but I have to say Im not sure what I would do if ever faced with this situation again. If a parent came in drunk who normally collects the child, I think Id have a great deal of difficulty saying 'no'."

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Please thank your friend for sharing this sensitive information i know it must be difficult for her. I had no dea this would open up such an imotive subject. I clearly have a lot of research to do. Still open to suggestions. Thanks

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Susan, I echo Stars' thanks to your friend for sharing. I can empathise with why she may have doubts as to how she would handle this type of situation again, given the circumstances.

 

Maybe we need to consider all adults having access to "personal alarms", whether the sound of one of these would deter an assailant though, I don't know.

 

All credit to your friend for his/her undoubted bravery and for putting the child's safety before her own.

I do think that in every even like this the police should be summoned as soon as possible.

 

Peggy

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I have come across this in nursery before - usually around Christmas time! Fortunately the parent did not get aggressive and they had another person in the car who we were able to release the child to (they were known to us as a family friend and not just some random person, before you ask!)

 

However, we still watched as dad got behind the wheel of the car... it shudders to think what could have happened that night.

 

I think it comes down to the point at which the child leaves the care of the nursery and is the responsibility of the parent i.e. as they are on your premises, do they abide by your rules/policies or once they are on the premises does the care automatically return to the parent - I can't answer that one, but it could be something to include in the policy?

 

I think that further clarification is required and I'll ask at work tomorrow to see if any one else has any suggestions!

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Hi All

 

Following this thread with interest and echo many of the thoughts expressed.

 

I just wonder what the situation would be if (God forbid) we allowed a child to go with an adult 'under the influence' and even though we may have notified police and/or social services, something happened to the child. Could we then be held responsible for failing in our duty to ensure a child's safety?

 

I am thinking of a recent near miss when a child had been 'officially' handed over to a parent and then ran almost into the road :o Technically and legally the child was in the care of his sane, sober parent so my responsibilities were 'over' but had this incident occurred in a situation with a parent under the influence I have to say I feel part of the fault would be mine for handing the child over.

Hope this makes sense!

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Just to let you know this came from our PLA advisor (who always calls on my day off Nand never makes an appointment so I have never seen her!! but that is another matter....)

 

She informed the staff we should not let the child leave with a parent under the influence!!! we questioned this at the time saying we did not think we ahd a right to do so but she insisted we put this in our child collection policy.

 

I do look forward to seeing what you all find out to clarify this for us.

 

we were not happy with this but acted on her instructions to begin a wording suitable..

 

Inge

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This forum is now officially hazardous to my boss' health.

 

This morning she brought in some policy guidelines which had been sent by our local early years team.

 

"Oh, that's interesting - is there anything in there about parents collecting children whilst under the influence?" I said brightly.

 

I watched as the colour drained out of her face and I thought she might faint on the spot. I was horrified when I realised she thought I was alluding to one of our parents. I quickly reassured her that it was for research purposes only!

 

I do kind of have experience of this: but not directly, when I first began to work in pre-school. I met the mum of one of one of our nursery children at a social function and although it was early in the evening, and one glass of wine had been on offer, this parent appeared to have had 'one over the eight'.

 

When I went back to nursery I asked the staff if she had some kind of medical problem which made her appear drunk. A few eyebrows were raised, but no-one ventured any opinions. The lady was very nice, seemed friendly and so I just assumed she was ill, not drunk.

 

It was only much later (after her child had left our setting) that I found out from a reliable source that she did indeed have a drink problem, and that on several occasions she had taken her child home from nursery whilst under the influence.

 

It taught me a valuable lesson: never take things on face value, and beware of the assumptions we make about people. Most times when we get caught out we can just chalk it up to experience.

 

As some of the posts here illustrate, in the case of parents who are influenced by drink or drugs, the potential result of a mistake of this kind can be devastating.

 

I shudder to think of what might have happened.

 

Maz

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Many years ago, one of our parents always smelt to me of booze when she collected her child. I told the playleader, under the impression she may want to record, generally be aware, I was told in no uncertain terms 'Dont go saying that, she is a diabetic and her medication gives her bad breath'. :o She was later found to be an alcoholic. Dont believe any fibs either.

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Lawcall Advice;

 

Q: If a parent is considered under the influence of Alcohol/drugs, can we stop them (in law) from taking their child?

 

A: Depends on the extent, if you understand them to be over the drink drive limit then you would be within your rights to stop the parent taking the child because the parent would be committing an offence ( driving whilst over limit) but RING POLICE STRAIGHT AWAY.

If the person was on foot - difficult, unless unable to stand, if your "REASONABLY HELD BELIEF" is that the parent is unable to care for child, we have a right to stop parent taking child for the "Protection of the child". CONTACT AUTHORITIES-SOCIAL SERVICES straight away.

Q: Could we be charged with abduction ( worse case scenario) if we didn't hand child over?

A: reasonably NO, protect yourself though by contacting the Police immediately.

 

sorry discussion was on alcohol, I presume drugs would be same, although some good words of advice about "diagnosis" already said.

 

 

Q: If we didn't stop a parent taking their child ( although we thought they were not capable to care) Would we be liable under Child protection / safety negligence, if a subsequent accident/injury occured?

 

A: The legal responsibility goes to parent once child is with parent. There is NOT a legal obligation to protect the child when not in our care.

 

 

BUT as all of us have said and I am sure will agree that we all have a moral responsibility to protect all children.

 

 

Hope this clarifies and helps with wording of policies. I like the phrase " Reasonably held belief"

 

 

Peggy

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Thank you Peggy. Spoke to my child protection officer today, she said we DO have the right to hold the child as it is in the child's best interest. We then have to contact the next appointed person to come and collect the child. It must be made clear in our policy that by with holding the child is not an attempt to be dictatorial towards the parent it is purely to safeguard the child concerned, and must be treated as a child protection issue. I too agree the use of " Reasonably held belief" to be included. I feel more able to write the policy with this extra guidance thanks again for everyones input.

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  • 4 months later...

Found this thread during a search and wanted some responses to a 'what would you do?'

 

We have a parent who often smells of alcohol when collecting the child after lunch club (around 12.20) Usually seems quite OK but has on occasion been wobbly! He isn't agressive but avoids talking to us. If he needs to sign anything his hand is always very shaky.

At the moment we don't feel he poses a threat to us or the child... at present :o

 

I sought advice from our PLA Support Officer who said we should record incidents he smells of alcohol in the concerns file. She also said that it should be mentioned at the next key meeting. The other parent is the one who attends keymeetings but an added complication is that this parent is also a supervisor of a preschool in the same town....

 

WHAT WOULD YOU DO???

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Your comments appear to say that as yet you do not have concern for the childs safety. I agree incident reports should be made, but remember these should be signed by the parent unless you feel that informing the parent you are writing an incident report about will in itself cause a threat to the childs safety.

 

Although it is difficult, I would like to beleive that given the same scenario I could take any of my parents to a confidential area of my setting to talk to them and let them know about my concerns.

 

In this case, if you discussed your concerns with the other parent without discussing with the collecting parent, is this not gossip or a breach of confidence? I'd hate to think someone was talking about me to my husband in this manner.

 

You could ask the supervisor parent what policy her setting has for this scenario, just as a professional query. :o

 

Peggy

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I was hoping for more reactions to this but thanks Peggy!

We have discussed it at 3 staff meetings so far and have been split 50/50 on what to do.

I am in the half that believes that the parent/s should know we have noticed and that we are recording times that we can smell alcohol. We also feel that as the other parent is a supervisor it is easier in a way as we can use the 'I'm sure you understand we have to do this....' line. We are worried that if anything happens in the future the fingers will point to us for not doing anything...

 

The other half (including the child's keyworker) feel that hte parent has always been seen around town with a can of beer and although he has had a drink is most likely not drunk. They feel that the other parent must know already and that bringing it to the attention of one or both of them might make matters worse. They feel that it is not illegal to drink and therefore none of our business.

 

 

I'm afraid I pulled rank adn insisted that it was mentioned at the keymeeting. I do take your confidentiality point Peggy but I felt that I would want to be told if my partner was arriving smelling of drink. It was mentioned and the other parent said they were 'embarrassed'. We will continue to record dates in our concerns file though. We don't get these signed by a parent in our setting. We have an incident book that IS signed which would be if there was an actual incident IYSWIM!

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I see your staffs point about it not being illegal to be drunk ( unless of course you are causing a public affray) and you have considered the childs welfare. As you have had a chat with the partner, at least your concerns are out in the open now.

 

I must admit, I had a conversation with an Ofsted Inspector a few years ago asking her to clearly define when something is deemed as "an Incident", at that time she wanted me to record idle parent gossip :o ,

she never did really clarify Ofsteds definition of what "an incident" is. In your case you are aware of a certain type of behaviour ( drunkeness) but until something actually happens it is not seen as an incident yet.

 

Peggy

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Hi, sorry I haven't repliedbefore, haven't been around much since Sat lunch!

 

My feelings are pretty much with Peggy, but i have a bit of a problem in that I have virtually no sense of smell!! I would need to rely on staff letting me know :o

 

Sue

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