A Vancouver woman says she was shocked beyond belief to learn that daycare staff failed to notice when her two-year-old daughter wandered off and ended up alone outside in a parking lot — and that a similar incident happened three months before.
Rachel Garrick says young Henrietta had not been gone long when she wandered away from the Hastings Park Childcare Centre last November, but that fact is hardly comforting.
"The only reason they did notice she was missing is because someone happened to be driving by at that time and that person stopped their vehicle and got out and informed the staff that one of their children was out in the parking lot," Garrick said. "So if we hadn't been lucky that way, who knows how long she would have been out there."
Daycare lost another child
The daycare, which is run by Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, apologized saying it deeply regretted the incident and would be taking steps to make sure it wouldn't happen again.
But Garrick, wondering if it had happened before, decided to investigate.
When she could only find glowing licence reports and no mention of similar incidents, she sent Vancouver Coastal Health, the licensing agency, an information request under the B.C. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
"I received that [response] last week and it was very upsetting to see in August, just a few months before Henrietta went missing, they lost track of another child."
National daycare standards proposed
Emily Mlieczko, the executive director of Early Childhood Educators of B.C., said these types of issues are the result of a patchwork series of regulations across the country.
"It really is a crisis for families, so families are put in a position of not being able to find daycare when they need it, looking for daycare in a variety of locations because there isn't enough spaces, and no government is really responsible for that," she said.
Mieczko says a national system would help standardize policies, procedures and regulations governing daycare. Meanwhile, Garrick has advice for parents with young children.
"There's really no way of knowing what's going on in a daycare unless you file a freedom of information request," Garrick said.
Garrick says the inspection reports for Hastings Park Childcare Centre still make no mention of the daycare losing track of two children.
Vancouver Coastal Health told CBC News there is a requirement to note such incidents that happen in residential care homes, but not in daycares.
VCH also said it is satisfied with Hastings Park Childcare Centre's response to both incidents.