Child care scare: Sobbing tot found locked in storage room
A furious Central Coast mum has described the moment she went to pick up her two-year-old son from a childcare centre only to find him "sobbing and terrified" in a locked storage room, wearing a soiled nappy.
Samantha Bridge was going to pick up her son Abel from Dinky Di Children's Learning Centre in Lake Haven on Friday with her mum, only to told by workers that they weren't able to locate the toddler with staff.
But after a short search, the youngster was found stuck behind a cupboard, crying and shaking, in what should have been a locked store room.
"He was found crying for help, shaking for his mum and nanny in a soiled nappy that was so bad he has broken blisters now being treated with steroid cream and antibiotics," Ms Bridge said.
Pictures taken by Ms Bridge at the centre following the incident shows the room filled with piles of boxes and other potentially hazardous items.
"This has left me heartbroken for my child and fearing for the safety of other children. I'm horrified at the management not taking any disciplinary action and just dismissing the issue," she said.
"I feel as though I've just lived the worst nightmare of every parent and now that constant battle of the 'what ifs' are on my mind constantly."
Abel has since been removed from childcare with Ms Bridge claiming her son "has been left traumatised".
"He (Abel) has now regressed in behaviour by sucking his thumb constantly and not allowing me to leave him alone or shut any doors in our own home, crying 'please don't lock me in here'," she said.
An internal investigation began on Monday, where Ms Bridge was told that Abel was with a staff member up until 30 seconds before she arrived to pick him up - a claim she finds hard to believe.
"It's poor excuses saying it was only 30 seconds," she said. "It took me longer than 30 seconds to access the storeroom."
In another incident, a parent shared a video posted on Tik Tok by a worker at one of Dinky Di Children's Learning Centres while working.
The 12-second clip showed a second staff member sitting inside a child's cot while a child was on the floor.
Dinky Di Children's Learning Centres has confirmed it is investigating both incidents.
"Steps were immediately taken to address the issues that occurred and prevent them from occurring again, and we will take any further steps that may be required once the investigation is complete," general manager Michael Bryer said.
"Dinky Di Children's Learning Centres is committed to the care, safety and wellbeing of all children in its care, and regrets that this isolated incident has occurred."
He said they were only made aware of the Tik Tok video this week.
A letter was also sent to concerned parents on Wednesday informing them of Ms Bridge's incident and admitted the door was left unlocked but that the centre has since taken action to "ensure that it doesn't occur again".
The Department of Education is the regulator of more than 5,700 early childhood education and care services in NSW and has conducted in excess of 6,800 visits to services since January 1 2020, with 13 services being suspended or cancelled for serious breaches of the law and regulations.
A spokesman for the NSW Education Department said it had been notified of "a serious incident at an early childhood education and care service on the NSW Central Coast".
"The health, safety and wellbeing of children is the Department's first priority. All incident notifications are taken seriously and appropriate investigations conducted."
Originally published as Child care scare: Sobbing tot found locked in storage room