Lisa Phillips, (pictured), manager of Honeytree Day Nursery in Horfield, Bristol, took money from parents for the care of their children, but did not register them.
According to Avon and Somerset Police, the nursery manager, who had worked at the setting for 20 years, encouraged parents to pay their fees in cash.
Between October 2011-July 2013, she recruited 21 children as young as two to the nursery, who she did not officially register. This meant these children were attending the nursery without proper records of their health, medical or dietary needs.
On a visit to the setting last July, the nursery’s managing director Phillip Western, discovered that there was a child at the nursery who was not on the appropriate rotas. He then discovered that this child had no registration form.
Mr Western began an investigation that revealed 21 children were not properly accounted for.
He later detected an email, which showed the University of the West of England (UWE) had paid £240 for a student placement not to the nursery’s bank account, but to Ms Phillips.
After making the discovery, Mr Western notified authorities, including Ofsted, about what had emerged.
Lisa Phillips, who handed in her resignation, claimed that the missing money had been spent on expenses, but was unable to provide any receipts or adequate details for what she had bought and when.
Reports suggest that she stole the money, a total of £16,840, to pay off debts.
Ms Phillips pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position on 24 January 2014.
Officer on the case, DC Martyn Stanleigh, said, ‘Lisa Phillips’s actions were premeditated, deceitful and dangerous. I’m sure all parents know just how much trust is placed in childcare providers, who you expect to look after your children properly and follow the correct procedures.
‘Ms Phillips betrayed this trust and that of her supervisors. The fact that she was stealing money from parents and her employer and no registering children properly, effectively meant that children were put at risk.’