An attack on a two-year-old girl by an older boy at a creche in Sydney's northern beaches has raised questions about the standard of care required by child care service providers.
Eva Ness was bitten, scratched and bruised by a four-year-old boy after her mother placed her in the "Club V" creche at the Virgin Active Health Club in Frenchs Forest, as reported by the Daily Mail on Monday.
The girl's father, Rob Ness, raised the issue of duty of care, telling News Limited: "It's my feeling that somebody at Virgin Active has to be held accountable, obviously somebody has failed in their duty of care."
But in NSW, a distinction is made between creche facilities, where parents remain on-site while their children are supervised, and licensed child care centres, which are governed by national legislation and regulatory standards.
The distinction is an important one, says Leanne Gibbs, CEO of the Community Child Co-Operative, as creches operate only in accordance with "voluntary guidelines, whereas a child care centre will be operating by national regulations".
"That's something parents need to be aware of when they are leaving their children in creches," Gibbs says, adding that there are "no laws that actually surround who works with their children and their supervision".
"Parents may not know they are only under voluntary guidelines. I think it's something that needs to be stated clearly by creches."
The Virgin Active Gym at Frenchs Forest, where Eva Ness was hurt, was contacted about whether parents are formally advised of the care arrangements provided by Club V when leaving their child at the centre, but is yet to respond.
A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education and Communities, which receives about 100 complaints a month in relation to child care services, confirmed that its regulatory responsibilities do not extend to "creches in recreational or commercial facilities such as sports clubs".
"We have got really great regulations and great quality standards in child care services but these don't exist for creches," Gibbs says.
Has your child ever been through a similar experience? Call 4221 2207