I felt that it was important to comment on a recent news article. It was the story of a person picking up the wrong child at a daycare facility. I can’t even imagine how scared and panicked both the child and the parent were. The child was 4 years old, which means she was old enough for her parents to begin talking to her about stranger danger. Therefore, when someone that she never met came to pick her up (the person was a co-worker), you know there had to be some hesitation on the child’s part, but for the mother it had to be worse.
She arrived at the day care to pick up her two children only to learn from the school that she supposedly gave her verbal consent over the phone to let her 4 year old go home with someone else. This mother was shocked and said she had never called or given permission for anyone to pick up her daughter.
This mother chose this school because it had surveillance cameras and a fingerprint system on the computer to log in and out. However, the cameras were not functioning at the time, so they had no way to identify who took her child. It wasn’t until another child was left at the school later than her scheduled pick up time that the school called the mom to ask when they were coming. She was confused, saying her daughter had already been picked up by a co-worker. It was only then, that they had realized the wrong child was allowed to be picked up.
Upon seeing this news story Jackie and I knew that it was human error. Someone did not follow the protocol and guidelines that are set up. At the beginning of each school year, we asked each parent to give us a list of three people, with contact info, they will allow their child to go home with. Then, if a parent informs the school that one of these people will be picking their child, a consent form is signed.
When we learned that the parent was having someone pick up their child who is not on their list, we asked, “Does your child know this person?” If the answer is no, we asked the parent to talk to their child directly, so their child knows who will be picking them up and that it’s okay to go home with them. This naturally applies to an older child, a 4 or 5 year old.
Due to modern technology it is very rare to find a program that will still allow verbal consent to release a child to anyone other than their parent. However, on those rare occasions when the parent is not near a computer to send an e-mail consent, you must ask to talk to your child’s teacher directly so there is no miscommunication. We would never want you to go through what that mother had to endure when she discovered her child was missing.
Fortunately this story had a happy ending. However, it brings up the point that YOU need to be sure the facility you attend does indeed have a solid plan for when another person picks up and that the procedure is strictly followed! For your peace of mind be sure that you speak with the teacher who is in charge of the room your child is in. Sometimes other staff members take the call and forget to relay messages. And if possible only use the people who are on that emergency list. It is always best to have things written down. And really, no child feels comfortable going with someone they don’t know.
Here is the link to the article.