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Do we need to honour the 4 weeks notice period?

(27 Posts)
bsmirched Fri 03-Jun-11 00:38:44

Bit of a long story here - please bear with me!
We've been with our childminder for a few months and have been very happy with her and DS has loved going to her. He's 11 months old.
A couple of weeks ago, when I went to pick him up, she told me he'd fallen from a chair but that "Fortunately, he didn't bang his head" DS was fine - his usual happy smiley self. We didn't get any sort of incident report.
Two days later, when feeding him in the night, I noticed swelling on his head. We rang our out of hours docs and went off to the children's ward, arriving at 4.30am.
To cut an incredibly long story slightly short, after various tests, x-rays and scans it turned out that DS had a fractured skull which, according to the paediatrician was "Unlikely to have been caused accidentally." DH and I had no explanation for this injury, apart from knowing for certain that it hadn't happened whilst DS was with us. We were then subjected to the full force of Social Services and the police child protection unit. We told them about the incident at the childminder's. When interviewed by them, she told them that he'd been in a booster seat on a dining chair and had kicked the chair over when he'd been turned to face the table. She stated that he couldn't have hit his head as it was below the level of the top of the chair, also that the surface he fell on was cushioned.
The upshot of this was that his injury was still unexplained. As it was the weekend, even though he would other wise have been discharged he was kept in hospital so that we couldn't pose a threat to him.
On the Monday, we were told that he'd have to be placed with family, where we'd be allowed contact (I am still breastfeeding him) or if no family could have him, he'd be placed in foster care. I never want to cry like I did that afternoon. All we knew was that we'd done nothing wrong and we were having our little boy removed from our care. We were heartbroken.
Fortunately, my mum's brother and his wife were able to take him and allowed us as much contact as we wanted, although we weren't allowed to stay overnight, so for the first time in his life my little man didn't have Mummy or Daddy go to him when he woke in the night or first thing in the morning.

The day after he was discharged, the social worker and police asked that we take him to the childminder's to be photographed in the offending seat - turns out that his head was well above the level of the chair and the 'cushioned' floor was actually very slightly cushioned vinyl on concrete.

A week after he was placed with my uncle, a meeting of SS, police and health visitor heard and saw the evidence of the photos etc and all agreed we were no threat to our boy and that he could come home with us immediately. The paediatrician also agreed that the real version of the fall from the chair - as opposed to the childminder's original version was consistent with DS's injury.

So - now we obviously don't want to stay with our CM. It's not that we think accidents shouldn't happen, and this was an accident, it was the fact that we put our little boy to bed the night it happened not knowing that he had a serious head injury - I shudder to think what might have happened -and that she then lied to the police to try to cover herself.

Under the circumstances, would we still be expected to honour the 4 weeks notice we agreed to when we signed the contract?

Many thanks if you've ploughed through this!

going Fri 03-Jun-11 00:44:47

That's sounds like an awful experince for your whole family. Glad your ds is okay now.

reddaisy Fri 03-Jun-11 00:51:14

Gosh! I didn't expect to read that when I clicked on your post. I would personally not send my child back to that childminder as a result of everything your DS has been through.

I would write terminating the contract with immediate effect and I wouldn't personally pay the notice period and if she wants to chase you for that, let her try.

If he fractured his skull then he would have cried a lot when the accident happened and you should have had an accident form at the very least.

Accidents do happen, my DD got a huge egg on her head a couple of months ago after a bump when I was the one looking after her but you have to trust the caregiver to tell you exactly what happened and the trust in your relationship has gone.

Is it appropriate to report the incident to Ofsted?

I'm sure other more knowledgable people will post on this later, I hope you and your family are ok now after such a horrible ordeal. Take care.

bsmirched Fri 03-Jun-11 01:03:25

Thanks both.
We have been told that we can complain to Ofsted - as a teacher that really goes against the grain! lol
It shocks us that it's up to us, really - after all, she has lied to the police and social services and they were quick enough to remove DS from us!
The one great thing about all this is that throughout it all, DS has been absolutely fine (apart from the skull fracture, obviously!) and loved being in hospital with all those new people to smile at and charm the pants off! He even took staying with my Uncle in his stride too, bless him.

reddaisy Fri 03-Jun-11 01:15:29

I would report the incident then, tbh you can understand social services taking the action they did, as distressing as it was for you and your DP, other little ones are actually living with people who do them harm so they needed to be sure.

Glad he is alright.

nannynick Fri 03-Jun-11 05:59:23

Is the childminder asking you to pay 4 weeks notice? Are they aware that it has been decided that the injury was most likely due to the accident that occured whilst in the childminders care?
Terminate the contract based on the incident and state the outcome of the social services investigation, using facts you can prove.
The childminder can then decide if they want to take you to court to get payment or not.
Ask for details of the childminders insurer - as over the next I think 20 years, a claim could be made against that insurance if your son does end up suffering long term damage.

pippin26 Fri 03-Jun-11 08:37:17

What an awful awful ordeal for you all. All credit to SS for taking swift action - albiet targeting you the parents (a friend of mine went through something very similar and was separated from her children for nearly 2 wweeks).

So now that you are vindicated, are SS investigating the childminder for so obviously lying about the situation (re the chair/height)? If she can lie about something that has obviously caused a lot of damage (and subsequently a lot of heartache) what on earth else can she lie about. I am sure she has not hurt him deliberately and by the sounds of it she got frightentened and tried to cover up - this does not make it right for any of you. This incident SHOULD be recorded somewhere in her paperwork.
It is highly possible that she did not realise your LO was injured as such, you yourselves said that you didn't notice till a couple days later. However, to me it sounds like she has tried to cover up.
With all head bumps - no matter how minor, I record and tell the parents - for precisely the reason you have described and for the safety of the child.

I would write a letter and terminate with immediate effect stating all situation as you have described. Let her chase the money, I think she more than likely find she does not have a leg to stand on. However, it would not hurt for you to get a bit of advice from a solicitor in respect of the fees at least - many solictors offer a free half hour or go to the CAB.
NannyNick is right about the insurance as well.

I hope your LO is well and mending quickly. I hope your family recovers from this awful ordeal.

HSMM Fri 03-Jun-11 09:16:33

You should have had an accident form on the day. The CM should have reported this to Ofsted as a serious injury in her care. You should also inform Ofsted, to ensure this has been done. If I was your CM, I would not expect you to pay notice in these circumstances. What a dreadful experience for you.

nbee84 Fri 03-Jun-11 09:24:45

What an awful thing to have to go through. I'm so pleased that your ds is ok.

As you've pointed out, accidents happen. But it was so negligent of the childminder not to tell you the full story so that you could keep a close eye on him.

looneytune Fri 03-Jun-11 09:31:36

Had to hold back the tears there, how awful for you! Yes, it was right that SS etc. ensured all was safe for your DS but how incredibly stressful and upsetting for you sad I'm pleased he's ok now and agree with the others, you should have a report for this. Also, I'm sure she HAS to report this to Ofsted considering the nature of the injury!

nannynick Fri 03-Jun-11 09:52:31

It was not reportable to Ofsted at the time of the incident, as the child was not admitted to hospital at that point. However as they have subsequently been admitted to hospital and due to SS involvement, it is reportable in my view to Ofsted and I'd hope the childminder did that when they got the visit from SS, presuming that at that time the childminder was told that there was a hospital visit and that it was likley due to the injury sustained whilst in the childminders care.

How has the childminder reacted to knowing that the injury is now considered serious? Initially it sounds like it wasn't considered to be serious and the failing was not recording the accident correctly, plus possibly using unsuitable equipment.

I would imagine that the childminder is very concerned about the incident and may know very little about what has happened following that day, given that SS may not have revealed much if they were doing an investigation. Have you spoken with the childminder since the accident occured?

HavePatience Fri 03-Jun-11 10:03:44

No. Do not pay the 4 weeks notice. Write her a letter stating that you are terminating the contract with immediate effect due to lying to the police and SS (and to you!) about a serious injury resulting in your child having to stay in hospital.
If she is horrible enough to ask you for the notice period money or tries to chase you up for it, she will not get anywhere.
How awful for you sad

AnnieLobeseder Fri 03-Jun-11 10:14:59

Wow! What an awful experience for you! There but for the grace of god go all of us.

I'd say, due to gross incompetence on her part, you are well within your rights to terminate immediately with no notice. If she fights it, I doubt very much that a court would look kindly on her.

Northernlurker Fri 03-Jun-11 10:23:24

How awful for you! I would do as others have said. Terminate the contract without notice and complain to Ofsted. Yes accidents happen - that's what accident forms are for! Had you known he had hit his head you may very well have taken him to hospital that night with the explanation of a fall at the childminders. For want of a better word this would have looked much less 'suspicious' than what actually occurred and you may have been spared the trauma of the investigation and seperation. Your childminder is at fault here and although she is doubtless very distressed that does not mean that she is not professionally accountable for her actions just like anyone else.

TheSecondComing Fri 03-Jun-11 10:26:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HavePatience Fri 03-Jun-11 10:32:05

That's true, NorthernLurker - the cm not only lied to you and authorities, but as a result of that caused trauma for you and your family. Please, please do not give her one single penny.

bsmirched Fri 03-Jun-11 12:10:51

Thanks very much everyone - it's good to get some opinions other than our own as we may not be looking at the situation in an entirely unbiased way!

busymum1 Fri 03-Jun-11 16:11:34

Have just read this in floods of tears. I am a cm and last week felt awful a child in my care suffered a head injury. I filled in an incident report instantly got it countersigned by a headteacher as I was on her premises as a witness and then as child concerned me and is only one contacted parents who came with me to a&e thankfully she was fine but I was not taking chances. I contacted Ofsted who said as she was not in hospital for more than 24 hours I did not need to report the incident but they would log my call anyway.

As a cm it was awful to admit what had happened but I would have been traumatised if this happened to my child and I was not informed. The child's parents were lovely but I still felt bad.

I can only hope you can understand not all childminders would act in the way your childminder did and hope your ds is fine now big hugs for you and your family.

Northernlurker Fri 03-Jun-11 16:45:21

busymum - you did exactly what you should. Don't reproach yourself. Accidents happen. It's what happens next that matters.
My dd recently hurt herself at nursery. Nursery staff behaved very well and did everything they should and I took the time after we got home from a&e to ring them and say what had happened, that she was ok and that I wouldn't have done anything differently to them. I hope that helped them because they were clearly upset by the incident.

busymum1 Fri 03-Jun-11 18:58:33

Thanks Northernlurker! The child came straight back with me and parents returned to work all is good now but I can see why a cm would rather cover up as it is so horrible telling a parent their child could be injured when in your care, however it is just not worth it. I still feel bad but now I can see it was just an accident not my fault.

busymum1 Fri 03-Jun-11 18:58:56

Thanks Northernlurker! The child came straight back with me and parents returned to work all is good now but I can see why a cm would rather cover up as it is so horrible telling a parent their child could be injured when in your care, however it is just not worth it. I still feel bad but now I can see it was just an accident not my fault.

busymum1 Fri 03-Jun-11 18:59:08

oops sorry double posted

youarekidding Sat 04-Jun-11 11:17:42

Got directed here from a friend another MNer.

Sorry to hear you have had such an awful experience. Glad you DS and your DH/DP are OK though and back as a family as you should be.

I work in SN school ans any bump to the head (even just a child rolling over into a toy) is recorded and if any mark - even if just a red one appers a head injury letter is sent home to the parents stating signs to look out for. NO parent has ever questioned or mentioned how it happened but glad they have some info and there honesty involved.

I did cry at your post but was warned I would. sad

PaulaMummyKnowsBest Sat 04-Jun-11 16:53:51

her insurance company details should be on your contract

I am truly shocked on your behalf and no, don't pay her the 4 weeks notice due to gross negligence

bsmirched Sat 04-Jun-11 21:52:42

Thanks everyone x

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