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Carmel Caterpillars Preschool


Carmel Caterpillars Pre-School

Missing Child Policy and Procedures

Policy Statement

Children's safety is maintained as the highest priority at all times both on and off premises including outings. Every attempt is made to ensure the security of children is maintained at all times. In the unlikely event of a child going missing, our missing child procedure is as follows:


  • All exits of the Pre-School are locked/guarded in a way which makes it impossible for a child to be left unattended. However, steps are taken to ensure that the exits are allowed to be quickly released in an emergency. 
  • All children's times of arrival and departure are recorded, and in addition a second daily register is filled in by a member of staff. Numbers of adults/children is written on a white board and changed as necessary throughout the session. 
  • Children are made aware of the boundaries set in the Pre-School and outside area, for example the Kitchen door is always closed and children do not have access. A high ratio of staff to children is implemented at all times. 
  • A risk assessment is carried out daily/weekly/termly and yearly and all staff are made aware of any hazards or danger. 
  • The Pre-School is aware of their responsibility for a missing child and for all the children in the setting. Staff will be responsible for keeping children as calm as possible so as not to alarm them, but it may be useful to ask the children if they have seen the missing child. At all times the ratio of adult/child will be adhered to, whilst taking in to consideration the urgency of looking for the missing child. All parents will need to be informed of just the facts as they occurred. This will help to avoid the spread of panic. 
  • All areas of the building will be searched including all accessible outdoor areas. We will inform the Pre-School next door and the adjoining garage. 
  • The parents will be contacted or the alternative emergency contacts if necessary, as soon as the child is found to be missing, together with the police, so they can implement an immediate search. The chairperson and committee will also be contacted and they will carry out a full investigation, taking written statements from all the staff in the setting. 
  • If the police have been contacted then the Pre-School will need to phone Social services giving all the relevant information i.e the situation, as it happened, what systems the Pre-School has in place for security, who was informed and when. 
  • The incident will be recorded in detail in the "Missing Child" book, including any unusual behaviour of the child, and any other suspicious circumstances. 

Child going missing on an outing:

This describes what to do when staff have taken a small group on an outing, leaving the setting leader and/or other staff back in the setting.If the setting leader has accompanied children on the outing, the procedures are adjusted accordingly. What to do when a child goes missing from a whole setting outing may be a little different, as parents usually attend and are responsible for their own child. 

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing, staff on the outing ask children to stand with their designated person, and carry out a head count to ensure that no other child has gone astray. One staff member searches the immediate vicinity but does not search beyond that. 
  • The setting leader is contacted immediately and the incident is reported. 
  • The setting leader contacts the police and reports the child as missing. 
  • The setting leader contacts the parents, who makes their way to the setting or outing venue, as agreed with the setting leader. The setting is advised as the best place, as by the time the parent arrives, the child may have been returned to the setting. 
  • Staff take the remaining children back to the setting, leaving two members of the staff to continue the search if appropriate. 
  • In an indoor venue, the staff contact the venue's security who will handle the search and contact the police, if the child is not found. 
  • The setting leader, or designated staff member, may be advised by the police to stay at the venue, until they arrive. 

The investigation

  • Staff keep calm and do not let the other children become anxious or worried. 
  • The setting leader together with the Deputy, speaks with the parents. 
  • The chairperson and committee carry out a full investigation, taking written statements from all the staff in the room, or who were on the outing. 
  • The keyperson/staff member writes an incident report detailing:
  1. The date, and time, of the report
  2. What staff and children were in the group/outing, and the name of the staff designated responsible for the missing child. 
  3. When the child was last seen in the group/outing.
  4. What has taken place in the group, or outing, since the child went missing. 
  5. The time it is estimated that the child went missing. 
  • A conclusion is drawn as to how the breach of security happened. 
  • If the incident warrants a police investigation, all staff co-operate fully. In this case, the police will handle all aspects of the investigation, including interviewing staff. Children's Social Care may be involved if it seems likely that there is a child protection issue to address. 
  • The incident is reported under RIDDOR arrangements ( see the Reporting of Accidents and Incidents Policy). The local authority Health and Safety Officer may want to investigate and will decide if there is a case for prosecution. 
  • In the event of disciplinary action needing to be taken, Ofsted is informed. 
  • The Insurance provider is informed. 

Managing People

  • Missing child incidents are very worrying for all concerned. Part of managing the incident is trying to keep everyone as calm as possible.
  • The staff will feel worried about the child, especially the keyperson or the designated carer responsible for the safety of that child for the outing. They may blame themselves and their feelings of anxiety and distress will rise as the length of time the child is missing increases.
  • Staff may be the understandable target of parental anger and they may be afraid. Setting leaders need to ensure that all staff under investigation are not only fairly treated, but receive support while feeling vulnerable.
  • The parents will feel angry, and fraught. They may want to blame the staff and may want to single out one member of staff over others. They may direct their anger at the setting leader. When dealing with a distraught and angry parent, there should always be two members of staff, one of whom is the setting leader and the other should be the chairperson of the management committee, or a representative. No matter how understandable the parent's anger may be, aggression or threats against staff must not be tolerated, and the police should be called. 
  • The other children are also sensitive to what is going on around them. They too may be worried. The remaining staff caring for them need to be focused on their needs, and must not discuss the incident in front of them. They should answer children's questions honestly, but also reassure them. 
  • In accordance with the severity of the final outcome, staff may need counselling and support. If a child is not found, or is injured, or worse, this will be a very difficult time. The Chairperson or Manager will use their discretion to decide what action to take. 
  • Staff must not discuss any missing child incident with the press, without taking advice. 

The original of this document was signed on behalf of Carmel Caterpillars Pre-School Committee by the current chairperson.