Childcare abuse case: Licence tenure for My First Skool cut to 6 months from 24 months

Facade of NTUC My First Skool branch in Toa Payoh, where a part-time teacher allegedly abused a three-year-old boy. 

SINGAPORE - The childcare centre was issued a warning letter on Wednesday. Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) chief executive Ms Lee Tung Jean said the centre will have to provide more support and training for teachers, have clearer procedures in place for incident reporting, improve on its centre layout and have more age-appropriate programmes so the children can be engaged better.

Here is a statement from My First Skool:

Following a review, My First Skool will take the following measures across all its centres in the network to provide further reassurance to parents. The measures will be communicated through a letter to all parents at My First Skool this evening. Below are the measures:

Enhancing Parent Communications

We understand that the incident may have unsettled some parents. We encourage parents to work closely with our Principals and openly share their feedback and suggestions. Parents who wish to direct their queries to our HQ may contact us through the newly set-up feedback@myfirstskool.com email address or call our Customer Service team at 6634 9989. The management at My First Skool will see to the closure of all feedback.

Enhancing Incident Review Process

All cases of injury, accident or mishandling reported through our Principals or HQ are investigated thoroughly and promptly. We will be setting up an independent review panel to assess complex cases. This measure gives parents greater assurance of transparency and accountability to the incident review process.

Reinforcing Importance of Proper Care for Children

We have reminded our staff of the heavy responsibility they carry as carers and educators of young children. Inappropriate behaviour and actions will not be tolerated.

Staff are also reminded of available feedback channels. In the event that they observe questionable practices, it is their duty to report these to their supervisors. Should the issues not receive satisfactory attention, they are to escalate their feedback in accordance to our whistle blowing policy. Whistle blowing is done through an independent channel which reports to the Board Audit Committee.

Stepping Up Support for Teachers

We encourage our teachers to take time-out when they are stressed and to lend support to one another when they see that their colleagues are having difficulties. We will also deploy additional resources over time to assist teachers in managing classes that require more support.

My First Skool at Blk 192 Toa Payoh was issued a warning letter yesterday (17 July 2013). Below is a statement from Mr Chan Tee Seng, Chief Executive Officer, NTUC First Campus, in response to this development.

"We acknowledge the decision by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). Over the last one week, we have taken a series of immediate measures to assure parents of the well-being of the children at our Toa Payoh centre.

Today, we informed parents of further measures that will be implemented across all My First Skool centres.

We support Acting Minister's call that the trust and partnership between parents, teachers, and school is the foundation for a high quality pre-school experience. Our team of 1,500 educators are strongly committed to strengthening the trust with the parents at our centres in the months ahead. We look forward to their support, patience, and partnership, so that we can achieve our common goal for the children under our care."

Woman abuses child at Toa Payoh childcare centreClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: Internet screengrabs)