SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - A nine-month-old boy was scalded after his buttocks were rinsed with hot water at a childcare centre.
The New Paper understands that the infant sustained second-degree burns on his buttocks and thigh, and may require plastic surgery.
The incident occurred at Learning Vision @ Vista Point in Woodlands on Aug 19 while a carer was changing the baby's diaper.
Mr Ronald Kwong, director of operations of Busy Bees Asia, the operator of Learning Vision, confirmed the incident.
"We want to express our heartfelt apologies to the parents of the infant who was scalded at the Learning Vision childcare centre," he said.
"We take full responsibility for the incident."
Mr Kwong said that only two of the 22 Learning Vision centres were fitted with a water tank heater system, with Vista Point being one of them.
The heater system should not have been fitted and this has since been rectified, he added.
According to Mr Kwong, the carer had scalded the infant after rinsing his buttocks with hot water dispensed from the tank.
He said there was one carer to every four infants at the time of the accident.
But he did not address TNP's queries whether the carer was certified and trained in the proper standard operating procedures.
He mentioned that the carer was receiving additional help from another carer who has worked in other childcare centres.
"Having relief carers is not a common occurrence at Learning Vision centres. We have reviewed and tightened our standard operating procedures," Mr Kwong said.
The centre has contacted the infant's parents to ensure the child receives medical care.
When The New Paper contacted the mother, she declined to comment because she has hired a lawyer to seek compensation for the incident.
An Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) spokesman said it was aware of the incident but was unable to comment as police investigations are ongoing.
The spokesman added: "ECDA is working with the centre to ensure the safety and well-being of the other children at the centre."
Madam Lee Ling Ling, a 33-year-old mother of a six-month-old girl, was shocked to hear of the incident.
The senior manager at a public relations company places her in the care of a childcare centre when she and her husband are at work.
She said: "Had it happened to my daughter, I would have been horrified. Infants are helpless, so we rely on the expertise of carers to make sure their needs are met."
Kindergarten manager Ng Yan Ming, a mother to a six-year-old girl, said: "Clearly, the helper should have tested the water first."
While Madam Ng, who is in her 40s, acknowledged that accidents do happen, she stressed that anyone minding a child must be accountable for the child's welfare.
Stressing that those working in the childcare and kindergarten business must be certified and trained in handling children, she said: "If I put my child in somebody's hands, someone has to be responsible."