Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

No safeguards can prevent tragedies

As investigations continue into Friday's daycare centre death the head of the Early Childhood Council said no amount of health and safety regulations could completely safeguard against tragedy.

Aldrich Viju, 4, died on Friday afternoon at the playground of Angels Childcare Centre in Takapuna, less than an hour after his father had dropped him off.

The little boy, who had a younger sister, 2, and another sibling due in a couple of months, was just four months shy of his fifth birthday.

Instead his parents have been left grief-stricken as they prepare to farewell their eldest boy, who's been described as a typical 4-year-old who loved making friends, playing with his toys and running around just as kids do.

Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said Aldrich's death was tragic and was "one of those things that sends a shiver down your spine".

While Reynolds wasn't aware of the events that led up to the boy's death, he said there was "no health and safety regulation in the world" that could guarantee against accidents happening.

"I've only been in the sector for seven years...I'm not aware of something, a tragic event like this occurring before, it's [the early childhood industry] is pretty safe.

"Sure we have accidents and incidents from time to time, but that's nature, particularly when humans are involved."

According to the Ministry of Education, Early Childhood [ECE] Services Regulations [2008] the ratio of adult to children is dependent on the age of the child and the service provided.

For an all-day ECE provider minimum staffing ratios were one adult to every five children under two, for those between two to five; it was two adults to 20 children.

Floral tributes outside the Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna after a four year old boy died yesterday. Photo / Chris Loufte
Floral tributes outside the Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna after a four year old boy died yesterday. Photo / Chris Loufte

However, Reynolds said generally most of the child care sector operated "under that ratio".

"Most have one [adult] to four [children] and some certainly go down as far as one to three."

Reynolds wasn't aware of the staffing situation at Angels Childcare Centre, nor had he been in contact with it, or its owners.

He said the centre wasn't a member of the Early Childhood Council so it wasn't directly involved in investigating the incident, but it was prepared to offer support if called upon.

Ministry of Education's acting head of sector enablement and support, Susan Howan, expressed her condolences to the Aldrich's family.

"Our thoughts are with the family of this child in the wake of this terrible tragedy," she said. "This will be an extremely difficult time for families and staff at this early childhood education service."

Sure we have accidents and incidents from time to time, but that's nature, particularly when humans are involved.
Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds

While the Ministry had sent a member of its traumatic incident team and one of its education managers to the daycare centre, Howan said police were the lead investigators.

Police didn't expect to be able to release further details around the circumstances of Aldrich's death for several days.

Family spokesman and president of the Auckland Malayali Samajam group, Joseph Devasia, understood the autopsy had been completed on Saturday and the four-year-old's body had been released to the family.

He said it was being prepared for a viewing and prayer service to be held on Monday morning at 10:30am, at the Catholic Church in Ellerslie.

- NZ Herald

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