Kinderland HQ failed to supervise centre employees: ECDA, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Kinderland HQ failed to supervise centre employees: ECDA

Following a report by an independent review committee set up by Kinderland to look into the spate of child mismanagement incidents in 2023, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) found that Kinderland headquarters did not effectively supervise the training and oversight of its centres’ employees.

ECDA will continue to limit the licence of both Kinderland centres at Woodlands Mart and Sunshine Place to six months after they expire in March 2024, ECDA said in a statement on Feb 20, adding that it will be closely monitoring all other Kinderland centres.

In addition, Kinderland must share the lessons learnt from the incidents with the rest of the early childhood sector, it added. “This will enable all preschool operators to reflect and learn from this episode, review their own internal systems and processes and identify areas for improvement.”

The cases of child mismanagement came to light on Aug 28 when videos of former teacher Lin Min allegedly mistreating children under her care, including a 23-month-old girl, were circulated online. In one video, she was seen allegedly forcing the girl to lie down and pouring water into the girl’s mouth.

Since then, ECDA has conducted frequent unannounced checks on Kinderland’s classroom management practices, and issued immediate corrective actions.

Kinderland has responded with measures to strengthen its systems and processes by deploying more employees from its headquarters to the two centres to provide close guidance.

Centre leaders also conducted day-to-day walkabouts to tighten supervision, in addition to having closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) installed in all centres by November 2023.

Kinderland also required all centre leaders to submit a daily online report on the centre’s operations.

Training sessions were conducted for all Kinderland employees on its code of conduct, use of appropriate child management strategies and reporting procedures for inappropriate practices, and clamped down on employee attendance and employee competencies through quizzes and assessments.

Kinderland has designated a contact person for employees to report inappropriate policies to, while expanding channels that employees can use for reporting.

ECDA CEO Tan Chee Wee said the agency has zero tolerance for inappropriate management of children in its pre-schools.

“All operators, centres, and educators are expected to do their part to keep children safe.

The Kinderland incidents have revealed its HQ’s failure to exercise effective oversight of its centres’ staff training and supervision. It is therefore crucial that Kinderland HQ properly implements and sustains corrective actions across its centres to prevent child mismanagement from happening.”

ECDA had taken actions against the teachers involved and their centre leaders.

Kinderland was given a financial penalty of $10,000 - $5,000 for incidents at each centre - and the licenses of both centres were immediately shortened from 36 to six months for close monitoring by ECDA.

The agency also rejected Kinderland’s recent application to add a new centre into the partner operator scheme, under which centres receive government funding.

Separately, following police investigations, the former educator from Kinderland @ Woodlands Mart has been charged with one count of illtreatment of a child or young person and the court case is ongoing. The former educator at Kinderland @ Sunshine Place was administered a 12-month conditional warning.