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Toddler locked in and alone for two hours

Last updated 11:58 30/11/2010

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A childcare centre supervisor has been stood down after a distraught two-year-old girl was left behind alone at the centre for almost two hours while staff and children went on a picnic.

The toddler was left behind at the Ta Fesilafai Aoga Amata childcare centre in Beach Haven, on Auckland's North Shore, on Friday morning.

It was only after the toddler's mother arrived at the picnic spot in West Auckland that it was discovered the child was missing.

Police, the Education Ministry and the childcare centre are all investigating the incident.

The childcare centre licensee, Sonny Vagana, said a relative of the mother and a relative of one of the childcare workers smashed open a window at the centre and found the distraught girl.

Mr Vagana held a meeting last night with staff to try to find out what happened.

He had spoken yesterday to the girl's mother, who had complained to police, and was keeping her informed about the centre's investigation.

"Everyone's pretty distraught about it, especially the staff."

Mr Vagana said the supervisor in charge had taken it the worst but he was not making excuses for what happened.

"It's unacceptable, it should never have happened."

The centre already had robust procedures in place to deal with outings by the children but would implement any changes suggested to prevent similar incidents happening.

"We've let the parents down and we're all disappointed."

Bruce Adin, Education Ministry northern regional manager of early childhood and regional education, said the ministry was notified yesterday morning that a child was left unsupervised at the centre.

Two ministry staff had visited the centre in response to a complaint from the toddler's parent.

Officials were still gathering information and were yet to get a full picture of what happened.

Mr Adin said the centre was generally well managed and offered a sound education programme to children who attended the childcare service.

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- North Shore Times

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