Shocking numbers of children are going missing or unnacounted for in childhood care. Picture: Liam Kidston
Shocking numbers of children are going missing or unnacounted for in childhood care. Picture: Liam Kidston

Shocking number of kids missing in early education centres

CHILDREN are going missing at alarming rates in early education centres amid record-high numbers of serious incidents prompting warnings about child safety.

And at least eight Queensland children aged under three have died from exposure to extreme heat in vehicles since 2004 exclusive data from the Queensland Family and Child Commission reveals.

Missing and unaccounted children made up a shocking seven per cent of all serious incidents reported at early education centres around the country in 2018-19, up from 5.5 per cent in 2016-17, and 6.6 per cent in 2017-18.

And 1.3 per cent of all serious incidents involved a child either being locked in or out of the service up from 0.9 per cent in 2016-17.

Revelations of the "concerning" state of childcare safety comes days after the death of a three-year-old boy in a Goodstart minibus Edmonton, south of Cairn s.

The death has left Brisbane mother Lucinda Bruce haunted by the thought it could have been her child.

In October last year her daughter Sophie was left on a minibus for more than an hour after a kindergarten excursion while in the care of Sesame Lane North Lakes Discovery Drive.

But Ms Bruce said her five-year-old was so traumatised she's still gets distressed every time she gets in a car, fearing she will be left behind.

Sophie Bruce, 4, from Rothwell, with her sister Mollie, 2. Sophie was left behind on a child care bus and is still scared every time she gets in a car. Picture: Liam Kidston
Sophie Bruce, 4, from Rothwell, with her sister Mollie, 2. Sophie was left behind on a child care bus and is still scared every time she gets in a car. Picture: Liam Kidston

When contacted hours after staff found Sophie and another child left on the bus, father James Bruce raced to collect her, and they immediately stopped using the service.

"I feel overwhelmed, I feel as though, how can you put your child into a childcare centre and feel as though they're safe because this is all happening at the moment," Ms Bruce said.

Shocking data from RACQ showed they were rescuing kids from locked cars three times a day on average with 664 Queensland kids left in cars from October 2019 to the end of January.

RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said it could take just seven minutes for the inside of a car to reach upwards of 80 degrees which would cause injury to anyone.

Kidsafe CEO Susan Teerds said the amount of incidents at early education centres was concerning.

Kids Safe CEO Susan Teerds. Picture: Liam Kidston
Kids Safe CEO Susan Teerds. Picture: Liam Kidston

While she couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation into the death, she said it was something that would devastate the family, the service and the community.

"There's no excuse for leaving kids in vehicles whether it's a parent for five minutes getting the milk or whatever you're doing," she said.

"I think it's good to revisit policy and procedures and make sure they're working and that they are being adhered to," she said.

Child Death Review Panel member USC Professor Jeanine Young said these kinds of incidents were a tragedy for the family and all of the services involved.

"It highlights the need that no child or vulnerable person is ever left in a vehicle for a length of time, particularly in our Queensland climate.

"And it will highlight the importance of communication between services transporting children to destinations and also services that are expecting to receive a child at their service."

Sesame Lane declined to comment.



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