Childcare centres can help in situations where kids are home alone

The mother would usually drop off the girl at a childcare centre but on that day, she did not do so as the centre was open for only half a day.
The mother would usually drop off the girl at a childcare centre but on that day, she did not do so as the centre was open for only half a day.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

It was heartbreaking to read about the six-year-old girl who fell to her death (Mother regrets not locking kitchen window, June 7).

The girl's mother said that she would usually drop her daughter off at a childcare centre but, on that day, it was open for only half the day.

Hence, she left her daughter alone at home.

It is important for parents to remember to never leave their children alone at home.

Children who are afraid may drown in irrational thoughts of imaginary abandonment in a fit of panic and anxiety and act impulsively, doing anything to escape from the fearful situation of being alone.

Perhaps, the following actions should be considered to prevent such situations from happening:

• Childcare centres can set up a parent support group to provide a platform for parents to support each other during centre closures, for example.

• Childcare centres can provide ad hoc hourly care at a subsidised rate which is affordable for needy families, instead of the commercial rate charged by other agencies. When parents are faced with centre closures, they have an additional childcare option to consider.

• Childcare centres should send letters informing parents of closures. Such letters could include a reminder for parents not to leave their children at home alone or unsupervised, as well as the contact details of nearby childcare centres.

• Parents should prepare their children emotionally for alternative childcare arrangements by assuring their children that they will be contactable at all times. They should also teach their children about emergency rules to protect themselves.

A child's physical and psychological safety, as well as well-being, are impacted by the decisions made by his parents, educators and the community.

It is our responsibility to protect children from harm, injury and unnecessary risk.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2019, with the headline 'Childcare centres can help in situations where kids are home alone'. Print Edition | Subscribe