[url="http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/breakingnews/breakingnews_3475494.html"]http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/breakingnews/breakingnews_3475494.html[/url] Monday, May 28, 2007 | Updated at 9:53 AM EDT
Abuse in daycares A Star investigation based on thousands of never-before-released daycare incidents and inspection reports has uncovered a myriad of serious problems including children wandering off unattended, being forcibly confined in closets and storage rooms as punishment, and served meals prepared in mice-infested kitchens.
But even in the most egregious cases, the provincial Ministry of Children and Youth Services is often slow to act.
Daycares with a pattern of problems are allowed to operate for months or even years on provisional licences, while children are exposed to substandard conditions, internal government documents show.
"The conditions you highlight are unacceptable and we take it seriously," said ministry spokesperson Tricia Edgar.
"It is a concern. We're going to be looking at this. I can give you our assurance that we will do that. It isn't consistent with the health and well being of kids."
The records are typically kept secret. Parents who trust their children with a licensed daycare have no way of finding out if their daycare is exemplary or riddled with problems.
The Star obtained the records -- which relate to the last three years -- following a series of freedom of information requests that took more than two years.
They revealed serious problems at several hundred of the 4,400 licensed daycares in the province.
The highest rate of reported problems was in Toronto, but that may be because the city's daycares are more tightly regulated than others in the province.
While the majority of daycares appear to be well run, child care in Ontario suffers from a lack of funding that often translates into troubling conditions and poorly trained or unqualified staff.
"We've had an avalanche of problems," says Bobby Bhar, who operates two Etobicoke daycares that have had repeated problems.
The inspection reports on his two Children's Corner Day Nursery locations are a parent's worst nightmare.
One centre is at Royal York Rd. and Wilson Ave.; the other is on Kipling Ave. south of Steeles Ave.
The reports detail allegations of abuse and mistreatment of children, filthy conditions and child injuries. Repeated problems have meant the daycares have operated beneath minimum legislated standards for much of the past three years.
Despite repeated visits from provincial inspectors, threats of closure and deadlines to make fixes, the two daycares have continued to look after more than 120 children.
Bhar said he would like to provide better care but lacks the funds.
The Star's research is based on four types of information: reports by provincial and city inspectors; serious occurrence reports made by daycares when there is an injury, an allegation of abuse or a child gone missing; enforcement actions by city or provincial authorities; and complaints made by parents.
Since 2000, nearly 500 licensed daycares have received provisional licences, which are granted to centres that do not meet minimum standards on the condition that they will correct serious problems. The ministry has shut down only 13 daycares during that period.
Daycares in Ontario are operated by non-profit organizations, colleges, municipalities and for-profit companies.
Of the nearly 4,400 licensed daycares in Ontario, 78 per cent are non-profit and the remaining 22 per cent are for-profit centres.
Many daycares with the most serious problems, according to provincial and municipal records obtained by the Star, are for-profit operations. Studies have shown higher quality childcare is most often provided by non-profit organizations -- findings that are disputed by organizations representing private commercial daycares.
[b]At one commercial daycare in Brampton, a 2-year-old almost died of an allergic reaction to peanuts because the daycare did not call 911.
Instead, staff at Rise-N-Grades Montessori School and Daycare monitored the child and eventually called the parents. When Sylvia and Neil Miggiani arrived they found their daughter covered in hives, eyes nearly swollen shut, vomiting and choking. Sylvia ordered staff to call paramedics who saved the girl's life.
"I went through so much to have a child and to think that in one meal at a daycare centre, that it could have all ended," says the mother.
"I can't even begin to tell you how horrible that was."
Contacted by the Star, Tim Waghorn, who runs the daycare with his wife Karen, declined to comment on the allegations, saying they now have a clear licence to operate. [/b] Experts say problems in Ontario daycares are the result of a childcare crisis in Canada caused by chronic underfunding and the lack of a national program for funding.
A major international study last year ranked Canada at the bottom of a list of 14 industrialized nations when it comes to spending on early childhood education.
The study, conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), found Canadian child care services rely on underpaid child care workers who receive little support for training, high parent fees and small subsidies.
The Conservative government's decision to scrap funding for a national daycare program in favour of direct payments to families has failed to address what child care advocates call a "mounting social problem."
"We're not even in the game," says Martha Friendly, a child-care advocate and co-ordinator of the Toronto-based Childcare Research and Resource Unit. "We're the lowest spender, which shows how much value we place on it."
The chronic shortage of daycare spots leaves parents with little choice.
Nearly 17,000 families are on waiting lists in Ontario -- nearly 9,000 in Toronto alone.
The children's ministry's spokeswoman said that while daycare spots are in short supply, the ministry does not tolerate poor conditions in order to keep substandard centres open.
"The issue of child safety is not a balancing act or something we would waver on. In a situation of immediate danger to health or well-being (a daycare) would be closed immediately. And that does happen."
One harrowing example is Weeza's Wee Ones in Emsdale, Ont. It lost its licence in 2001 after the ministry alleged staff yelled, kicked, slapped and spanked children and even shoved an eraser in the mouth of a child who refused to "shut up."
The operator did not appeal the closure order.
It's legal to operate an unlicensed daycare as long as there are fewer than five children. More than five children in an unlicensed daycare is illegal.
Last month, the operator of an illegal daycare with 26 children in a small Riverdale row house was charged with criminal negligence after a 22-month-old child was allegedly bitten 18 times by another child.
Fewer than 20 per cent of Ontario children attend licensed facilities. The rest are cared for by their families or are in unlicensed daycares.
Even those who are in regulated programs have no guarantee of high quality care.
The provincial Day Nurseries Act sets only a minimum level of care and although the legislation requires daycares to voluntarily report serious occurrences within 24 hours, provincial inspection records contain numerous examples of serious incidents that went unreported.
On May 29, 2007
There is no way possible, ever, I would through choice put any kid of mine in daycare. Just had to comment. Much less my PA child. Institutions can't possibly care even a tiny % as much as mom and/or dad home all day with junior. If I had no choice (say, my husband died and our savings and safeguards somehow failed) I would be one miserable gal every day of my life dropping my children off at a daycare. Even if I called it a preschool, summer camp or whatever else.
On May 29, 2007
That really wasn't a helpful comment. At all.
Daycare is a fact of life so why post something that is bound to sound judgmental to families that do use daycare?
I would never do a million things that other people do, but that doesn't make them worse parents. I won't post about all the things I would never do, because other excellent and loving parents do many of the things I would never do.
On May 30, 2007
My son's daycare center is so wonderful. They're not perfect but I'm only a few floors away and the hospital is one block away so I'm very fortunate in that respect if anything should ever happen. The caregivers are so well-trained and caring. There are certainly bad apples out there but trust me, there are some truly special people out there in the child care field who don't deserve to get lumped in with the poor examples.
On May 30, 2007
I also do not think putting a child in daycare is banishing them to he**. My son has been in daycare since he was 8 weeks old. The care he receives is wonderful and nurturing and he has been safe there. There are good daycares and bad daycares just like everything in life.
On May 30, 2007
Originally posted by Christabelle: [b]There is no way possible, ever, I would through choice put any kid of mine in daycare. Just had to comment. Much less my PA child.[/b]
How about an elderly or disabled family member?
[b]Institutions can't possibly care even a tiny % as much as mom and/or dad home all day with junior.
If I had no choice (say, my husband died and our savings and safeguards somehow failed) I would be one miserable gal every day of my life dropping my children off at a daycare. Even if I called it a preschool, summer camp or whatever else.[/b]
My children have never spent a second in "daycare". But he's never known a babysitter other than Mom, Dad, or Grandma either. (my parents moved in with us 11 years ago and my father passed away 5 years ago.) Leaving children with a baby sitter (particularly teenagers) is what always creeped me out. If I had to do either (day care or babysitters) [i]I'd modify my lifestyle first[/i] before I'd search out daycare. Pronto.
But I'm a bit of a control freak and neurotic. I'm real standoffish about people even touching my children. Ask my closest friends. As a matter of fact, I don't think I could leave my children to be babysat by [i]my closest friends[/i], and they are *good* people. Hubby and I got turned off in a restaurant yesterday since the waitress brought us a brewery sampler and kept touching the rims of the glasses while she explained them. We got straws. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img]
But germs are only the beginning for me. I'm digressing, so I better stop there.
Anywhooooo. ALL parents being more concerned? Institutions not even beings a "tiny %" AS concerned?
[i]Surely you jest[/i]. Do you watch the news? Live in a vacuum? COME. ON.
[i]Cuz then you would not believe what I've seen done to children by *parents*[/i].
Some can't even be bothered to make sure they wear a seatbelt. . .
But I disagree. There's a significant number of [i]parents[/i]....who could give two squirts less than the one they gave to have them. I think in some cases they feel [i]entitled[/i] to their actions.
Don't even get me started on how I've seen some parents of food allergic children rationalize how they manage their children's allergies. Or fail to manage. Or whatever other health concern.
[i]Educated, privileged, been told before, parents.[/i]
On May 30, 2007
Oh, and btw, Christabelle, when do *you* consider "preschool" to be "daycare"? Under what circumstances? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/cool.gif[/img]
Does Early Childhood through IDEA childfind count? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img]
Do you also consider "kindergarten" to be "daycare"?
Well, I'll be. I homeschooled my oldest son for first and second grade, so does that make me [i]a better parent[/i] than the parents who send their children to school for first and second grade? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]
Where in your pyramid does public vs. private school fit? Seems like there is some hierarchy.
Apparently I'm screwing up here, since both my children with multiple special needs attend a public school. . . [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img] I guess if everyone who had a special needs child committed themselves to physically caring for their children 100% of the time, schools, and society in general wouldn't have to bother dealing with anything less than a few SD outside the "norm". How neat. How *perfect*. Just like those *rotten* parents like myself to junk up the works by [i]abandoning[/i] their children to who knows what. (folks, that's SARCASM). no wonder why peanut butter is becomming scarcer. . .it's all those negligent parents. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
On May 30, 2007
I did home daycare....
I am not saying anything other then there are some bad people out there(like stated above) but there are also some great ones too. It's finding the great ones that makes all the difference. I was very dedicated to the 4 children I watched with my own 2. I even took in asthmatics and would have 3 nebulizers running all at once. I've never used daycare myself, but if I did, I would search until I found the perfect match to my kiddos. It can be done, not all people are bad(but I have seen some bad ones in this line of work...also in the foster care service)....but there are bad nurses and doctors too(every profession has bad apples, but that doesn't make the whole profession bad itself.) My parents trusted me, trusted their children with me, I never failed them, even for a minute! HUGS [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
------------------ Chanda(mother of 4) Sidney-8 (beef and chocolate, grasses, molds, weeds, guinea pig & asthma) Jake-6 (peanut, all tree nuts, eggs, trees, grasses, weeds, molds, cats, dogs, guinea pig & eczema & asthma) Carson-3 1/2 (milk, soy, egg, beef and pork, cats, dog, guinea pig and EE) Savannah-1 (milk and egg)
On May 30, 2007
I guess I'm a rotten parent, too. My 2 oldest attended preschool (2.5 hours twice a week at age 3 and 2.5 hours three times a week at age 4). Then, I went on to send them to kindergarten and now my oldest is in public 1st grade for the day---and wow--my kids love school.
We've never used a babysitter (other than Nana or Auntie). We've never NEEDED daycare (in other words, it was our CHOICE to send our children to preschool and that was what it was PRESCHOOL), but if daycare was what worked best for my family, I wouldn't feel the need to justify it on this site or anywhere else. I was fortunate to find a peanut-free school that was as well-trained and informed as hubby and myself in terms of food allergies. The teachers were wonderful, nurturing and caring.
Like Mommabear, I'm not one to leave my kids with anyone---even though I probably could. I can't explain it, but I am only comfortable with having my mother or my sister babysit for short periods of time.
I consider myself fortunate to be in a profession that allows me to work off-hours from my husband, therefore we can provide our children's care, but I would never assert that not sending my kids to daycare makes me a better mother than someone who works 9-5 and has to rely on daycare.
I've seen many wonderful parents who carefully choose their children's daycare. I've seen really terrible parents whose children would be a million times better off in daycare.
I am so tired of the daycare vs. stay-at-home debate.