September 5, 2018.
Sealey Street childcare centre in Thames has been shut down by the Ministry of Education. This followed the Ministry of Education being informed by parents website My ECE of anonymous complaints it had received against the centre. But ERO’s latest report (2016) on the centre states that it meets all legal obligations, is safe and that nurturing relationships are evident between children and teachers.
Allegations concerned the owner/manager. Allegations also concerned a member of the owner’s family who worked at the centre.
The allegations included: shutting children in a back room, withholding of food, restraining children at tables, shaming and bullying children. Other allegations included: force-feeding, putting children into cots they could not get out of (effectively locking them in), putting children to bed as a method of punishment, forcefully holding children down on beds for up to an hour while other children watched, and dragging and rough handling children.
My ECE reviewed the complaints and it requested the Ministry investigate and intervene quickly to close the centre to protect children. It asked the Ministry to inform the Education Council responsible for teacher registration. Additionally, it asked the Ministry to provide support for children who may have suffered mental, physical, and emotional trauma.
On July 20th the Ministry suspended the centre’s licence to operate pending investigation.
The Ministry found the centre had not been complying with the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 and the Licensing Criteria. It had multiple breaches specifically in regard to: “the curriculum, premises and facilities, governance, management and administration and inappropriate child behaviour management strategies.”
The centre’s licence to operate was withdrawn effective from August 27th and the centre shut down.
The Ministry of Education sent a letter to parents, dated 31st August, informing them of the permanent closure. No mention of offers of psychological help for children or compensation is included in the letter.
Dr Sarah Alexander is concerned for the wellbeing of children who have attended the centre at any time since it opened in 2012.
“We don’t know how long the abuse was going on. It may have been going on since 2012.”
Dr Alexander says that she believes both the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office have let children and families down.
“Parents and families trust that such things would never occur at a government licensed and funded service. Without the Ministry of Education undertaking regular unannounced visits of early childhood services this sort of thing will continue to happen.”