Childcare centre fined $20,000 after kids found on edge of highway

·1-min read

A childcare centre near Perth has been fined $20,000 after four young children were found on the edge of a busy four-lane highway.

Staff at Sparrow Early Learning in Mandurah failed to notice as the three girls and boy, all aged four years and under, climbed through a gap in the fence last August. 

They were discovered near traffic by members of the public, who safely returned them to the centre.

File photo of plastic buckets and shovels in a sandpit. Source: AAP
Four children slipped through a broken fence at a WA childcare centre and were found near traffic. Source: AAP

An investigation by the Department of Communities found the centre to be in breach of education and care service laws.

In a statement on Friday, the department said the fence was known to be regularly damaged by vandals and had been spotted on the morning of the incident yet staff failed to repair it.

"Being approved to operate a childcare service in Western Australia carries significant responsibilities and obligations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children enrolled at the childcare service," the department's Deputy Director General Catherine Stoddart said.

"Perimeter barriers should be checked regularly, and repairs carried out so as to protect against any child being able to leave the safety of a centre's grounds.

"The supervision policies and procedures must be robust and include frequent headcounts and premises checks, especially for those children with known abilities such as climbing fences or tall outdoor or indoor structures, to ensure all children are accounted for."

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