Boy, 4, latest child left to roam

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013

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A 4-year-old special needs boy was found wandering on a Porirua street after scaling a compost bin and escaping from his kindergarten.

The incident involving Mungavin Kindergarten comes only days after a baby boy was heard crying from a cot inside another Porirua childcare centre, which had closed for the night.

This week also saw a cold and upset 2-year-old wandering the streets of Tokoroa, and a four-year-old Samoan boy found alone on a Takapuna street about 4am.

Wellington Kindergartens general manager Amanda Coulston said staff at its Mungavin Kindergarten in Porirua noticed a 4-year-old boy was missing when they sat down for lunch at noon yesterday.

After a thorough search of the grounds failed to find him, staff widened the search to the streets around the Awatea St kindergarten.

About 15 minutes later, they came across a fireman saying he had discovered the lone child and left him in the care of staff at a nearby church.

The parents and Ministry of Education had been informed, and as "whenever a child's safety is called into question", an investigation was conducted.

After a search of the grounds, it was discovered the boy climbed on to a compost bin recently placed by a fence.

It had since been removed and the fence would be strengthened, Ms Coulston said.

"We will be following up to ensure all our processes are sorted and we can minimise [the chances] that this ever happens again.

"It is one of those things that everybody has taken very seriously and has committed to ensure it never happens again."

Mazina Jalal was working in the Mungavin Four Square when a uniformed fireman brought in the 4-year-old boy, after finding him wandering on the street.

Mrs Jalal, who has an autistic son, recognised the boy as having special needs when he failed to respond to questions.

She was about to call the police when a teacher from the kindergarten came to collect the child about 20 minutes later.

Four Square worker Kirsty Persson said it was a concern.

"It is a bit scary, really, just goes to show, special needs or not, a child can get out."

Meanwhile, investigations continue at Samoan Early Education Development's Maher Place centre into how a 9-month-old boy came to be left behind after closing on Wednesday night.

Manager Tolo Pereira told The Dominion Post yesterday that there were no safety concerns for other children, and the boy's parents had asked staff to forgive themselves.

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- The Dominion Post

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