For safety: Nancy (seated, centre) posing with guests after the Together We Stand Against Harassment: #HentiGangguanSeksual event in KL Sentral. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: There will soon be mandatory background screening of babysitters by the police and Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, says its minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
She said the ministry and police have principally agreed to cooperate to tighten enforcement of the guidelines for hiring babysitters.
Nancy said the matter was decided during a recent meeting with Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.
She said among others, the police will be tasked with checking if candidates have a criminal record while the ministry will look into certain criteria, including the mental health of potential child carers.
“I recently had a discussion with Datuk Seri Ayob Khan where we (the ministry) made a request for them (the police) to help vet candidates.
“Principally, we have agreed on this. The police have agreed to cooperate by giving feedback whether or not those applying to be babysitters are qualified.
“This decision was only made last week.
“The ministry has requested a further discussion with the police to formalise this initiative, but we can do this immediately if there are requests,” she told a press conference at KL Sentral here yesterday.
Recently, it was reported that a two-month-old girl died while under the care of a babysitter at a nursery in Section 6, Kota Damansara. The childcare centre was not registered.
The collaborative effort between the ministry and the police to vet child educators was welcomed by early childcare associations.
They described the initiative as timely given the recent cases of abuse and neglect of children at nurseries.
Malaysia Association of Registered Early Childcare and Development president Anisa Ahmad said the initiative will further empower registered childcare centres.
She said the proposed psychometric tests for potential candidates would allow nursery operators to identify if a person is qualified for the job.
“It is about time we focus on the safety of children.
“I hope this effort will empower registered nurseries and that the government will be more selective in allowing people to join its free courses for early childhood.
“The priority should be given to registered centres.
“I also hope the government will make necessary amendments to the Child Care Centre Act 1984 (Act 308) because it is quite outdated, with loopholes that need to be dealt with.
“Parents must also be more responsible. Don’t send your child to an unregistered nursery.
“Think about the child’s safety,” she said when contacted.
Malaysian Kindergarten Teachers Association president Sally Ng had a similar view, saying babysitters should undergo regular psychometric check-ups given the nature of the job.
She added that childcare centres would need the support of the government to ensure all employees are mentally and emotionally stable.
“Dealing with children is something else; it’s unpredictable. They could be happy today and throw tantrums the next day, like refusing to eat or screaming non-stop, and all these will take a toll on the carers’ mental health.
“Babysitters are human and there are various factors that could affect them emotionally, which is why I believe regular psychometric check-ups will be a good move.
“At the same time, caregivers must be monitored, perhaps through CCTV, and also taught about the kind of punishments they may face if they abuse or neglect the children.
“But childcare centres can’t afford to send employees for regular psychometric tests because it will be costly.
We hope the government will support us on this,” she said.
Source: TheStar, 1 November 2023