Earlier this year, a toddler from a small childcare center in Vermont wandered away from his group during outdoor play. When the child’s parents arrived to pick him up, his teachers realized he had been missing for hours. After a frantic search, he was found in a stream on the property. The child died the next day, leaving behind a devastated family and prosecutors contemplating charges for the childcare providers.
While this story is an extreme example of what can go wrong when children aren’t adequately supervised, stories like this are in the news all the time. Children escape out of unlocked fire exits, are left outside when the rest of the children are brought inside, or are left in vehicles after a field trip. While these incidents do not always result in tragedy, the potential for serious injury is extremely high.
The obvious solution to this problem is simply better supervision. As a former childcare provider, I know how much teachers are trying to juggle but their number-one priority must be keeping track of their kids. Especially in a childcare setting, children should never be left alone for any reason. Best-case scenario, this is a serious licensing violation; in the worst-case scenario, it can result in injury or death.
- Perform name-to-face counts before and after every outside time.
- On field trips, have children wear matching bright shirts.
- Assign children field trip buddies.
- Bring as many chaperones on field trips as possible.
- Physically check every seat in a vehicle for children when arriving anywhere.
- If an exterior door must remain unlocked due to fire code, install a fence outside so children cannot wander into traffic if they get out the door.
- Teach children that only adults open and close doors.