children fall or run away

The number of incidents at day care centers has increased significantly in the past year. For the fourth consecutive quarter, the Childcare Complaints Desk has observed an increase in the number of reports regarding unsafe situations.

In the Netherlands, children ran away, fell out of their beds or were given to the wrong grandparents, it reports. AD. In the past quarter, children also got into the water, with one fatal outcome. Interest groups and experts are concerned.

Unsafe childcare situations

Between January and April of this year, the Childcare Complaints Desk received no less than 78 reports about unsafe situations at daycare centers. This number is significantly higher than the 54 reports in the last quarter of last year, the 41 reports in the summer and the 24 reports in the spring of 2022.

Serious accidents

There have been several serious accidents at day care centers in the past year. For example, on 10 March a tragic incident took place at De Toverburcht in Arnhem. A toddler died as a result of a “medical incident”. In Huizen in North Holland, a child from daycare center ‘t Kraaltje fell into the water at the beginning of April, with a fatal outcome for the boy.

On April 18, a toddler from a daycare center in Zwolle fell into the water. The child was transported to UMC Groningen by air ambulance. Fortunately, things ended well in Weert when a 3-year-old child ran away from Happy Kids daycare. An observant local resident noticed the boy and immediately called emergency services.

Tip of the iceberg

The interest group BOinK, which represents parents and parent committees in the childcare sector and politics, is not surprised. Chairman Gjalt Jellesma: “We have been warning for a year about an increase in incidents and fear that this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

According to experts, the increase in incidents is mainly caused by the large shortage of personnel in the childcare sector. At many locations there is a dire shortage of employees, as a result of which groups are often fully occupied. This puts considerable pressure on permanent staff and leads to high levels of absenteeism. Professor of Childcare Ruben Fukkink explains: “Children are much more likely to deal with changing faces instead of the familiar teacher who knows them through and through. This increases the risk of incidents.”

Short of staff

The staff confirms the problems. A recent survey conducted by Kinderopvang Totaal among 700 employees shows that more than half of them indicate that the number of incidents has increased in recent years. The reported situations vary from forgetting food and medication, children falling out of their bed or changing table, hot soup being spilled over a child, to even accidentally giving the wrong child to grandparents.

BOinK also points to staff shortages as the cause of the problems and emphasizes that there are too many trainees working in the childcare sector. Since January 2022, due to the large shortages, the cabinet has allowed half of the staff to consist of trainees, while this was previously one in three.

Childcare safer than before

Professor Fukkink emphasizes that childcare is, in principle, safe. After the abuse scandal at ‘t Hofnarretje in 2010, many improvements were made at the instigation of the Gunning Committee. This significantly reduces the risk of incidents. Fukkink points to personnel shortages as the main cause of the growth in incidents.

He advocates thorough investigation of every incident in order to learn from it. Fukkink also thinks it is positive that the cabinet has postponed the plan to make childcare free due to staff shortages.

Children frolic too little due to the shortage of men in childcare

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Childcare often unsafe: children fall or run away

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