Home / World News / Gummi Bears Child Care Centre fined $27,000 after girl suffers second degree burns to her chest and arm during activity

Gummi Bears Child Care Centre fined $27,000 after girl suffers second degree burns to her chest and arm during activity

A five-year-old girl suffered such extreme burns to her face and body during a playdough activity at a childcare centre that she needed skin grafting.

Hot water splashed onto the girl, causing second degree burns to her chest and right forearm, which required skin grafting, and also minor burns to her face, a West Australian Department of Communities investigation found.

The girl was treated at Perth Children’s Hospital on April 19 but still needed follow-up care, including wound dressing.

The State Administrative Tribunal this week found GD & KJ, trading as Gummi Bears Child Care Centre in Balcatta, had failed to ensure every reasonable precaution was taken to protect children from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury.

“An educator carried a large metal mixing bowl with a tall plastic container with 500ml of recently boiled water in the centre of the bowl with dry playdough ingredients around it,” the SAT said.

“She brought it from the kitchen to the outside undercover area at the service and went to put the bowl in the centre of a child-sized table.

“The bowl slipped from the educator’s hands and hit the table, and the hot water splashed on a child.”

kids playing with puzzle, education concept
Camera IconGummi Bears Child Care Centre was this week fined $27,000. Photo: iStock Credit: Supplied

Gummi Bears Child Care Centre was this week fined $27,000.

The SAT noted the centre had fully co-operated with the department regarding the investigation.

“The centre acknowledges that whilst safety audits and checklist are conducted and recorded daily, along with informal observation of educators compliance to policies and procedures, there was no formally recorded testing of the educator’s understanding of the policies,” the SAT said.

Since the incident, the centre has made changes, including ensuring educators understand policies and procedures, signage near the kettle that no liquids hotter than 45C is to be accessible to children and broader use of thermometers.

The centre has also produced an experience manual outlining approved activities, methods, ingredients and processes allowed with children.

“Educators are required to obtain approval from the nominated supervisor prior to implementing any experience involving the children that is not already documented in the experience manual,” the SAT said.

Steaming tea kettle on gas stove. Generic image. Thinkstock
Camera IconThe hot water was boiled in a kettle. Generic image. Thinkstock Credit: Supplied

The department’s deputy director general of governance, intelligence and reform Catherine Stoddart said hot water should never be used in an activity with children.

“Burn injuries can have lifelong consequences for children. Incidents like these are incredibly distressing for the children involved, their families and other childcare staff involved,” she said.

“Staff should be trained in the service’s policies and procedures and risk assessment to ensure they are embedded in their service’s practices.

“Childcare providers must have systems in place to monitor that staff understand and follow the service policies and procedures.”

Ms Stoddart said there had been a spate of incidents in the sector involving children.

“The Department of Communities is putting all approved providers on notice that it may suspend services from operating if it finds that children have been put at serious risk,” she said.

“Having policies alone is not sufficient — childcare providers must actively engage staff in thinking about the safety of the children and ensure that appropriate and robust practices are in place at their services at all times.

“Ongoing reviews should be conducted to ensure maintenance of practices and, where applicable, improvements must be made to ensure children are protected from harm and hazards at all times.”

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