Alberta tot dies after alleged daycare assault

An 18-month-old girl has died in a Calgary hospital from head injuries police believe she suffered at a private home daycare in Medicine Hat, Alta.
The 18-month-old died early Wednesday at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary. (Courtesy D'Arcy Norman)

An 18-month-old girl has died in a Calgary hospital from head injuries police believe she suffered at a private-home daycare in Medicine Hat, Alta.

The toddler was flown to Alberta Children's Hospital on Monday in critical condition. She died early Wednesday morning, said Medicine Hat police.

The 23-year-old owner of the day home was already facing charges of aggravated assault and failing to provide the necessities of life. But those charges will likely be elevated once an autopsy has been completed, police said.

The day home is a provincially approved facility. Day homes are approved by the province according to 12 standards, while full-fledged daycares are licensed under more stringent criteria.

Alberta's 2,800 day homes — usually run by parents seeking extra income — are allowed to care for up to six children in private residences. The day homes are monitored and contracted by agencies.

Homes inspected

The day homes are contracted by agencies that monitor them and perform regular inspections on the province's behalf.

Carly McKay of the Children's Corner Satellite Family Day Home agency said she had inspected the day home a month ago, but could not divulge what she found.

The Children's Corner agency inspected the day home where police believe a toddler suffered fatal head injuries. ((CBC))

"I cannot comment because it is an investigation," she told CBC News, adding, "The death of a child — it's not to be taken lightly."

Child care in Medicine Hat has been hard to find since one of the city's biggest daycares, which took care of 250 kids, closed earlier this summer. Many child-care providers also only take children more than two years old. 

The vice-chair of the Alberta Child Care Association, Diane McKean, said day homes should be subject to the same number of inspections as daycare centres.

"We would like to see that as the same minimum as daycares and out of school programs and pre-school programs," she said.

But overall, the current regulations are working well to protect children, she added. "I have to say there's some really great family day homes."

The woman was taking care of only the one child at the time of the alleged assault. The day home is now suspended.

The major crimes section of the Medicine Hat police continues to investigate.