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Boy, 5, picked up by police after escaping from daycare

A FIVE-year-old boy was picked up by police less than 200 metres from a train line after climbing over the front gate of a Sunshine Coast childcare centre.

He had wandered through a carpark and crossed a busy road.

Staff at the KinderMarlee Childcare at Landsborough didn't notice the youngster's absence for 25 minutes after confusion when his mother failed to sign him in.

The childcare centre was aware the boy was a "known climber" and said his father had referred to him as "Houdini".

Sharon Gardner said she thought her son Aiden was under the supervision of childcare staff at Mill St on December 23 when she was contacted by police to say they had found her son at Cribb St.

"His father was on his way to pick up Aiden from childcare when I called him to say Aiden wasn't there, the police had bought him home," she said.

ESCAPE ARTIST: Aiden Buckley, 5, with his parents Sharon Gardner and Michael Buckley.
ESCAPE ARTIST: Aiden Buckley, 5, with his parents Sharon Gardner and Michael Buckley. Patrick Woods

Aiden told his mother he climbed out of a window at the daycare, walked down a hallway and out past the front office.

"I asked what he did then and he said ,'I went over the front gate, I walked outside and kept walking'," Ms Gardner said.

When Aiden's father Michael Buckley went to the daycare looking for answers, they had no idea Aiden was missing.

"When he arrived they said, 'Oh, you're here to pick up Aiden'. They didn't even realise he was missing," Ms Gardner said.

A police spokesman said officers from the Beerwah police station picked Aiden up after they were contacted by concerned residents.

Ms Gardner said a young couple notified police after they saw him walking close to the train line.

Company director of KinderMarlee Childcare Janet Schluter said Ms Gardner failed to properly sign in Aiden in when they arrived at 12.45pm.

"There was no reason for the mother to not sign in. She just didn't bother which is often the case with some parents," she said.

Ms Schluter said in the minutes before Aiden went missing at 4pm, he was seen outside playing with other kids.

From there he left the group and entered a closed-off room and climbed out the window.

She believed Aiden was upset and attempted his getaway because he did not want to be at childcare that day.

"The child informed the staff that he did not want to attend that day and the teacher spoke to his mother about it," Ms Schluter said.

She said the police report indicated Aiden was missing about 15-20 minutes, between regular half-hourly headcounts.

"The number of children present matched the number of children signed in," she said.

"There were 21 children signed in, three staff working as per national regulations. "The educational leader saw the child out the back with the others as she was preparing to leave about 3.55pm."

Ms Schluter said in the 20 years the centre had operated, no child had left the premises unattended until now.

"The centre reported the incident immediately to the Office of Early Childhood on the morning of December 24 and will cooperate with any recommendation to improve the fencing," she said.

Ms Gardner confirmed her son was a bit of a "Houdini", but felt almost all children were climbers at some point.

She said they had notified the centre of her son's climbing tendencies multiple times.

Ms Gardner said Aiden would no longer be attending the centre but she hoped they would do something to assure it did not happen again.

The timeline

How Aiden stepped out

  • 12.45pm: Aiden was dropped off at childcare.
  • 3.55pm: He was last seen by a staff member playing outside with other children.
  • 4pm: Upset, he left the group and made his escape through a closed room, via a window.
  • 4.20pm: Police notify Aiden's mother he had left the centre and was found by residents walking along Mill St.
  • 4.30pm: Michael, Aiden's father arrives at the daycare where they inform him they had no idea he was missing.

Topics:  child care day care escape



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