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News - World Headlines

Centres Respond to the Problem of Parents Leaving Children Hours After Pick-Up Deadlines

St John’s, Antigua, Sept 2012 – Childcare providers have had it with irresponsible parents and guardians who constantly pick up their children late without giving prior notice and who are often callous and nonchalant when confronted.

Ten out of 13 childcare centres reported having problems with late pickup and finding themselves being taken advantage of by parents who seem happier to pay the small fines imposed for tardiness rather than pick up their children on time.

Two nights ago, a day care provider at Michael’s Mount reported an “appalling” situation where a toddler was left at her centre for more than three hours after the pickup deadline – prompting an OBSERVER Media survey on the issues plaguing the centres. The child was eventually picked up after several radio announcements alerted relatives.

“It’s rude and irresponsible. I can see it happening once or twice due to circumstances beyond one’s control. But a lot of times we have problems with parents picking up children late and I think it is getting more prevalent. I don’t quite understand why,” a Crosbies childcare service provider said.

Earla Musgrave-Esdaille, who has headed the Early Childhood Unit for the past eight years, said she has received numerous reports of parents’ negligence and the effects such could have on the very young.

“A child left in daycare could feel abandoned and hurt and regardless of how we see it as adults, they do understand when they are being neglected,” Esdaille said.

The early childhood educator, however, noted that some children would prefer to remain in the care of the service provider if the home did not provide the kind of love and attention the child craves.

“When children are not treated well at home and they get better care at the centre, they cry to go home and it tells you they are aware of the difference,” she said.

The childcare specialist of Crosbies said she has often been accommodating and lenient, but the more she bends backwards, the more she finds parents taking advantage of the centre, many times without even an apology or an excuse.

While her current batch of parents “have been good so far,” she said lenience in the past left her caring for a child until 8:30 pm although the pickup deadline passed at 5:30 pm.

“I’m here seven and eight o’clock with the children and the parents sometimes call me and I’m not comfortable with it, but things are so bad economically wise I try to help them out. They cannot afford to pay someone else to pick up their children or care for their children after daycare closes,” the Crosbies teacher said.

What she said she finds ridiculous is parents calling to say they’ll be late from work then they show up in gym clothing or fresh from the hairdresser or nail technician.

Esdaille, the Senior Education Officer responsible for Early Childhood Education, said in order to curb the practice the authorities plan to deal with the situation. She suggested that punitive action be taken against parents who virtually abandon their child in daycare facilities.

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