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Collecting Children


Helen
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A new problem for us yesterday! One of our mums who lives a couple of hundred yards from the setting telephoned to say she was sending down her ten year old son to collect his sister from our nursery.

We allowed it to happen this time, and watched them as they walked up the road and turned the corner (by that time, they are around 100 yards from their house).

What do you think? Do you have a policy that includes a statement along the lines of "we will not allow our children to be collected by minors"? Or should we just get mum to write a letter giving us permission for this to happen again in the future? Any other ideas? :o

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Hi Helen.

 

Our policy on collecting children states that no person under the age of 14 is allowed to collect children from pre-school and that basically, children will not be 'released' to people below this age.

 

I perosnally wouldn't allow a 10 year old, regardless of ditance to and from nursery/pre-school collect a child in my care because I just wouldn't feel comfortable with it. There's all sorts of issues to consider, such as roads, strangers etc. The other way of looking at it is that if the distance was only 100 yards, what was the problem with mum dropping what she was doing and collecting the child herself? I understand there may be certain things that are difficult to get out of though :o .

 

Also, while you are watching them wakl down the road, it is taking you away from the rest of the children.

 

Please don't think that I am saying you were wrong. It is just my opinion that 10 year old children are not a suitable and responsible choice for collecting younger children and taking them home.

 

If it was me, I would tell mum that although you allowed this to happen on one occassion, you will not be allowing it again and if it is a thing that mum can't collect the child herself, alternative arrangements should be made for collection by another adult/responsible person.

 

I don't have our policy to hand, but I will have a look for it and post it later for you.

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Hi Helen, we wrote it into our policy that children could only be collected by 16 plus. A childminder was forever sending one of her minded children from school to collect to save herself the effort of walking across the car park. I suppose it's a little different to a sibling and mom was obviously happy with it, but when I checked about the age children could be left at home I read that, should an under 16 babysit and a problem arises, the parent is responsible, over 16 and the babysitter is responsible. :D

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Wow, that's what you call a speedy response! Thanks so much.

What made it worse really is that I'm friends with the mum, and her older children play with mine, etc etc, so it's going to be awkward getting heavy, but I think I'll say something along the lines of what you've both suggested.

Thanks again,

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Hi Helen,

The fact that you posted the question shows that you are not happy with the situation. Go with your gut feelings. Let mum know you didn't enforce your rule last time, because you know her and her daughter etc, ( valuing the friendship relationship you have with her) but then say that 'in law' under the children act 'due care and attention' that you are unable to release children to minors under the age of 16 yrs.

I don't know if the above 'in law' quote is officially correct but I find it is always useful to quote law when you make decisions that some people may not agree with, it passes the 'argument' so to speak out of your hands because no-one would expect that you break the law. :o

 

Peggy

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Hi Helen

I agree with Peggy and feel perhaps you felt a little uneasy in allowing the child to go with a 10yr old which maybe prompted you posting your query.

 

We have a policy that no-one under the age of 16 can collect.

 

I think your position was made more difficult by the fact you are friends with the mum and her children play with yours etc. I have no doubt from what you have said, that the child who collected was responsible and capable but I think it's perhaps relevant that not all 10yr olds would be!

 

I don't think you need to get heavy and as you are friends I am sure the Mum will understand your position. I would go for yesterday was a one off but can't do it again as you would have to be fair and consitent and allow other parents to do the same if they wish. You could always go with the ' not all 10yrs old are as responsible as yours' so she doesn't feel you are being critical of her decision or her son :D

 

Good luck it's never easy!

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We don't actually have a policy for this one-perhaps it's time to write one. But I won't allow children to go off the premises with young children unless I have seen an adult outside waiting. I know, the girls especially, like to come in to collect and feel very grown up when they do, but I need to be sure there is an adult there waiting and make them wait until I have checked this.

Linda

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Yes, you're right; I felt very uneasy about it. I was up in the office doing paperwork with my supervisor when one of the staff called up to say what the phone call was about. It was good that the two of us were supernumerary that day so we were free to watch them leave.

Thanks very much for all your advice :)

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Im not sure if our circumstances would be different being a school nursery but we also say no collection by siblings which is very common in our school. Howvere we were told that we cannot legaly enforce this rule and that if a parent is adamant that they wnat their year 6 child to collect the other 5 children in the family, then we cannot stop them. (This came about after a parent complained to the LEA that we were effectively holding their child against their will). We do ask them however to sign a form stating who will collect, how old they are and that they relieve the school of responsibility. We haev 1 or 2 families every year who choose to do this.

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  • 6 months later...

This came up on my Child Protection training last night, and the trainer said that it is down to us to have a policy that clearly states an age. She wouldn't suggest an age but said that it was down to us to decide.

 

For those of you who do stipulate an age - has there ever been a time when you have had to check ID for their DOB??

 

She posed the thought in our minds about what happens if under extreme circumstances, as a one off, the parent requires an older sibling to collect. I am still debating that one and feel uncomfortable about it.

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There is no actual age 'in law' for babysitters, when passing responsibility of a child to another person other than parent on collection, it is down to 'due care' .

 

Peggy

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Our school policy was that no-one under 16 should pick up a child in FS or KS1. Very occasionally we had a parent who would insisit that an older child bring them home. The parent had to put the request in writing and sign to say that they took full responsibility for this. It may not be legal but that was what we required. no- one was ever allowed to pick up a child other than the parent unless we had been informed first - again parents were told of this polcy when the children started school.

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This came up at a Case Conference I was attending, where the children had occasionally been brought and collected by a child of 12/3. The parent said she had checked it on the internet, there was no law to stop her doing this. The chair agreed but with a very stern warning that if anything happened to the children while in this young person's care, the consequences could be very serious for the parent.

 

They did not seem able to give either ourselves or the school any guidance on what age to stipulate.

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A similar conversation happened at a child protection course that I was on, in relation to babysitting - one person on the course thought that the legal minimum age for a babysitter was 14 but apparently there is no legal age, the argument being that you can have an one 11 year old who is far more mature and responsible than another 14 year old. The onus is on the parent - they must feel happy that they are leaving their child/children in the care of a responsible and capable person.

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A similar conversation happened at a child protection course that I was on, in relation to babysitting - one person on the course thought that the legal minimum age for a babysitter was 14 but apparently there is no legal age, the argument being that you can have an one 11 year old who is far more mature and responsible than another 14 year old. The onus is on the parent - they must feel happy that they are leaving their child/children in the care of a responsible and capable person.

 

 

I agree, but in the case of children leaving the setting, the onus, I believe remains with the registered person until the child is back with their parents, even, I feel, if parental consent has been given. The childs safety and welfare being paramount. :o

 

Peggy

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I have a book of policies from the preschool learning alliance that states on the front cover that it was produced in consultation with ofsted. The sample "registration form" states that persons authorised to collect children must be over 16 years of age. We have adopted this policy at our playgroup and have asked for proof of age from some one in the past. We have also had a visit from the P.L.A and they confirmed that they considered under 16 yrs was unacceptable.

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As has been mentioned, althougth there is no legal age for a babysitter, the parent or carer has to be confident that whoever they leave their child with is capable of making an adult decision otherwise the parent could be open to allegations of neglect.

 

I posed the same question on here some time ago about siblings being sent to collect children after being put on the spot at pre-school. I phoned Ofsted who said that children can only be allowed to go home with a 'responsible adult', our duty is to safeguard the child and we are quite within our rights to say no to any requests for younger children to collect.

 

The difficulty arises in how you define a responsble adult but the young man at Ofsted said that so long as we stated an age in our policy we would be OK. Interesting to hear what ages if any, others stipulate in their pollicies as we have not stated one yet. I just told one parent who enquired 'Ofsted say ..... responsible adult.' and they were happy with that. Phew!

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