Two years ago, a little girl named Eva died at an unlicensed daycare right here in Ontario. Recently, her parents got the go-ahead to sue the Ontario government for their daughter’s death.
After Eva’s death, the daycare was searched and found to have 29 children and 14 dogs in their care. The legal number of children allowed in an unlicensed child care in Ontario is 5. Every province is different, but here in Ontario, the daycare in question was clearly acting illegally.
Eva’s death was tragic, and should not have happened. Perhaps things would have gone differently if the daycare provider had fewer children in her care and had been able to give Eva the attention she needed.
Eva’s parents are probably hard workers, sincere in their efforts to provide well for their children, and I’m sure they loved their daughter more than their own lives.
But their lawsuit begs the question: Who is responsible for finding safe, legal child care? Is it the government’s job or is it the parents’ job?
Parents, our children have been entrusted to us. Let’s not put blind faith in daycare providers when it comes to our children!
We need to be educating ourselves on the legislation surrounding child care in our own province or state. We need to be holding child care providers to those standards.
How do we do that? By asking questions.
Ask your daycare provider these questions and judge the safety of the daycare for yourself.
1. How many children do you care for?
The right answer: In Ontario, for an unlicensed daycare, the correct answer is up to 5 under the age of 10, in addition to the provider’s own children. It does not matter how many adults are helping, if they have a summer student, or if they have older children that help out. They may not go over the number 5.
In a licensed home daycare, providers may care for a maximum of 5 children under the age of 10 including their own children. Of these children, no more than 2 can be under the age of 2, and no more than 3 can be under the age of 3.
In a licensed commercial daycare, the ratio varies. For children aged 18 months and under there must be 3 teachers to 10 children. For 18 months to 30 months, the ratio is 1 teacher to 5 children with a total of 15 children in the class.
Note: These rules will be changing in September 2015. The new legislation states that the maximum number of children, for an unlicensed home daycare will be 5 under the age of 13 including the provider’s own children. See here for more information.
If you see 1 teacher or daycare provider for more than 5 children, they could be acting illegally.
2. What is your evacuation plan?
The right answer: This is not legislated, but your daycare provider should have a good idea of how he or she will get all of the children safely out of the house if there is a fire or other emergency. Her plan should include an escape route, a strategy for getting the kids out, and an idea of what should happen next (ie. go to Joan’s house across the street, call 911, then call parents).
3. How do you handle discipline?
The right answer: Distraction, Redirection, Time-Out/Time-In, Positive Reinforcement, Reward Systems, etc.
Never physical discipline, spankings, slapping or hitting. Never verbal demeaning or insulting. Never false consequences (ie. “Your mommy will leave you here if you continue misbehaving.”). Never withholding food or drink. Never complete isolation.
4. Where do the children nap?
The right answer: In play pens, Pack ‘n Plays, cribs or cots. If there were ever a fire during naptime, you want your child to be sleeping somewhere predictable so that emergency crews can find them easily.
5. Where do the children play?
The right answer: In a room with two exits, with outlets and wires safely covered, with age-appropriate toys and equipment, with no access to knives, alcohol, guns or chemicals.
There are many more questions that could be asked, but these are some of the most important ones.
We can not depend on the government to keep our children alive. As much as I love and support our country and how it’s run, parenting must be the responsibility of each parent as much as they are able.
Parents have no excuse to use unsafe and illegal daycare in most places in our country. We are blessed with many options, and we need to explore them fully. When it becomes a life and death issue, we need to take our responsibilities seriously.
Finding reliable, safe and legal child care is hard. But losing a child to negligence is much, MUCH harder.
Do you have any experiences with illegal daycare in your area?