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or is the childrens centre?

(32 Posts)
allaboutme Tue 14-Jul-09 13:25:19

Am not sure here tbh

We go to a surestart childrens centre every week for a stay and play group.
When we started going there used to be a system where you arrive in reception, sign in and then the receptionist buzzed you through to the play area. You cant open the door unless she presses the release button on her side of the desk.
When you leave there is a button on the other side (high up out of childrens reach) that you press to let yourself out.

Quite a while ago, they just stopped using this system and now the door is a normal push open door (release button is switched off).

I asked once if they could put it back on because my DS1 is a runner off'er and I was worried about him escaping. I'd had a near miss once but saw him run out and grabbed him before he got out the main door.
I also made a note in the suggestion box to the same effect.
I am worried because the childrens centre is set up in such a way that there are several small rooms to play in, all with open doors to wander in and out of and with 2 pre-schoolers there is always the chance that they will be in different places and I wont be able to see both of them 100% of the time.

I was told no, because the button was never intended to keep children safe inside, it was more of a security thing to allow only the correct people in to see children during contact sessions.

Last week DS2 toddled into a room, I went to get him, got back to DS1 and he was gone! After much panicking and racing around looking for him a complete stranger brought him inside and said she had found a child wandering around the car park.
I mentioned again about the button and that I wished it could be in use and the surestart worker just side stepped the issue and had a 'word' with DS about how he must never run off etc etc, basically blaming him.

I'm not sure whether IABU to make more of it and formally request the security button be used or if I should just leave it and perhaps not go back again?

muddleduck Tue 14-Jul-09 13:27:11


bumpybecky Tue 14-Jul-09 13:29:26


thell Tue 14-Jul-09 13:31:46

I think YANBU.
Our local soft play place has a button system - it's just common sense in any area where there are lots of children running around and it's easy to lose sight of them for a minute.

plimple Tue 14-Jul-09 13:32:08

There should be some sort of a catch so you can't just push it open.
Until they do that you need to teach DS1 how dangerous it is to go out. Have firm consequence e.g. if you try to open that door we will leave immediately. Position yourself where you can see that door. Did noone else watch him leave?

allaboutme Tue 14-Jul-09 13:37:07

No, I dont think they did.
Its a long corridor with rooms off it on each side and exit door at end of long corridor.
All Mums and children will be in the rooms so no one saw him go out the main door in the corridor.
DS said that he saw I was gone and left to see if I was at the car. He was looking for me.

I had told him I was just going after DS2 but it didnt sink in. He is nearly 4 but being assessed for development delays and this understanding of not running off/ safety things is an area he is a bit behind on I think.
The surestart staff do NOT know he is being assessed though.

They say that they are too short staffed to have someone pressing the buzzer all day in the reception area, so only use it when having contact sessions.

CarGirl Tue 14-Jul-09 13:41:45

I think they should use the button release system but put up a disclaimer that the centre will accept no responsibility for children leaving the centre unaccompanied.

Whilst I don't think YABU unfortunately some parents will just think it's safe to not bother watching their singleton child whilst the cause havock and run off.

In the meantime could you try being more assertive with other adults there asking them to mind x whilst you go look for y?

Yorky Tue 14-Jul-09 13:42:39

YANBU - If they don't want to use the button release system (and I don't understand why not) then can't they have a second door handle higher up which children can't reach? I saw this at a playgroup years ago and now wish I could install it in my kitchen as DS as just grown enough to reach.
I am having to be very strict with DH about shutting the gate on his way out to work now - I don't mind DS escaping into the back garden, but not out to the road, which is the same as the car park by your children's centre.
Also very hmm about disabling the system which was to safeguard children from 'undesirables' entering the centre, from the way you describe it it sounds quite hard to monitor

allaboutme Tue 14-Jul-09 13:46:00

I know I need to do something or DS wont be safe, but am nervous of kicking up a fuss when the staff there have been SO good to us over the last 2 years we've been going.
One of the staff gives up her time to come to swimming lessons in the centre with me as there is a one adult per child rule and otherwise I wouldnt have been able to join in.

DesperateHousewifeToo Tue 14-Jul-09 13:48:29

It's odd. Why would they spend the money on the system if they are not going to use it?

Perhaps write to the centre manager and ask why the system is no longer used. Explain how difficult it is to keep an eye on 2 children who go in different directions and that you may have to stop attending which would be a shame as the sessions are beneficial for your dc.

Perhaps request that it can be used at least whilst the 'stay and play' session is on.

Obviously, teaching your ds about not running off is important too but it would be nice to think that a surestart centre would understand the needs of children with developmental delays. I'm sure you are not the only parent with concerns. Has anyone else voiced them?

DesperateHousewifeToo Tue 14-Jul-09 14:01:23

You can 'kick up a fuss' in a concerned parent way without causing probllems, imho. It is your right to ask questions about a system that puts your children at risk.

Get some other parents on your side.

Think of the fuss you would cause if, heaven forbid, something happened to your dcs.

limonchik Tue 14-Jul-09 14:14:01

I can see both sides tbh - if they don't have enough staff to have someone sitting behind the desk buzzing people in, then I guess it will be difficult for them to do it.

1dilemma Tue 14-Jul-09 14:18:22


what gets me is the adults who stand and hold the door open for escaping kids I have a runner too age 2 and whenever he has got out it is nearly always because someone has propped/opened or held door for him!

katiestar Wed 15-Jul-09 19:01:51

YANBU I can't understand it either.
I would be inclined to take a buggy with you.Take them both into one room and tell your DS1 that he is not to leave the room and if he does he will have to have time out in pushchair.While theyu are playing make sure you stay by the door so you can intercept him if he tries to run out .If he does try to do so strap him up in the pushchair for 5 minutes.

wolfnipplechips Wed 15-Jul-09 19:08:15

YANBU its basic safety where small children are concerned and they would certainly not like a massive law suit i'm sure having said that our children center is very similar sounding and all the adults just have to be on guard for the doors.

PrettyCandles Wed 15-Jul-09 19:13:23

YANBU. The childrens' centres here are so OTT about being seen to do the right thing that they go too far (eg we are not allowed to leave snacks for our children when they are in the creche there, in case another child has allergies of which they have not been notified). Something as fundamental as child-resistant doors should certainly be used.

TotalChaos Wed 15-Jul-09 19:25:56


LoveBeingAMummy Wed 15-Jul-09 19:28:11

Mine has a button to push to get out but think you can just push it inwards [scratch head smilley]

KIMItheThreadSlayer Wed 15-Jul-09 19:28:37


PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Wed 15-Jul-09 19:29:44


PC that's bollocks as a policy becuase my dairy allergic / ASD-and-hates-water child wont touch the things he is given at school etc so I ahve to leave snacks or he wont drink

Amazing how many of these policies backfire under a tiny amount of scrutiny isn't it?

juuule Wed 15-Jul-09 19:46:54

I agree that there should be some sort of catch on the door to ensure that the children can't just open the door and go out.

How old are your children?
Whenever I took mine to toddler group I used to keep my eye on them to make sure they were okay.
If I needed to go to the loo with one (or whatever) I would ask someone to watch the others until I got back or take them with me. That way I knew where they were.

Emphasise to them that they mustn't leave the room and should tell you if they want to go somewhere.

I would query why they don't use the security button anymore though. If it is that they can't staff it perhaps a rota could be set up for volunteers or something. But at least a catch should be installed on the door.

MissisBoot Wed 15-Jul-09 19:51:31

YANBU - make a complaint to their management board. This type of thing should be part of their contract. Is the children's centre run by statutory or a voluntary organisation?

myredcardigan Wed 15-Jul-09 20:15:57

They don't need to staff the door. They just need a door with a handle at adult height. At the very least you could suggest they actually have it wedged open and a stairgate put across.
Children's Centres should have an understanding that some of the children attending may have developmental delay. What about children with ASD? Many of these children take every opportunity to run off. This can sometimes be coupled with a facination for doors. That would be a dangerous combination at your CC.

TBH, even the most basic ad-hoc toddler group has a safety measure on the door. I'd ask who you can contact to discuss it further. I'd also contact your local council and ask if it's council policy to allow such groups to take place in a room with no safety door.

girlsyearapart Wed 15-Jul-09 20:20:08

YANBU the door on the stay and play room at our children's centre was easy peasy for little hands to reach and open. A few of us suggested a catch at the top and the next week there was a handle at the top too. There is also a double door to come into the building which a staff member has to press to let you in. If they are busy you can get through the first door but not the second so the worst that could happen is that a child would be stuck between one door and the other. (they are glass doors)

icedgemsrock Wed 15-Jul-09 20:21:35

your childrens centre has a swimming pool???

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