The mother of a toddler who died last month at an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan, Ont., wants to ensure the Ontario government better regulates childcare facilities to prevent similar tragedies from happening.
"I do not want it to happen to any other parent, to any other family, to any other kid," said Ekaterina Evtropova, adding she would not wish the loss on her worst enemy.
- Unlicensed daycares operate free from oversight
- Parents of Vaughan daycare victim launch $3.5 million lawsuit
- Vaughan daycare victim ‘painfully’ missed by parents
Evtropova and Vyacheslav Ravikovich filed a $3.5 million lawsuit against the facility's operators and the Ministry of Education, claiming two-year-old Eva Ravikovich died thanks to an unlicensed daycare owners' negligence and the ministry's inefficiency at investigating prior complaints against the facility.
Two-year-old Eva Ravikovich died July 8 at a Vaughan-area home functioning as a private daycare. Eva attended the daycare for about a year, said Ekaterina, and the couple chose the facility after recommendations from several people.
The law requires unlicensed facilities not care for more than five children under the age of 10 simultaneously. However, Eva’s daycare held 27 kids on July 8 — the day Eva was found dead.
"Eva suffered serious injuries and died. Before Eva died she sustained pain and suffering, a loss of enjoyment of life," reads the document.
Eva was in good health the morning before she died when the daycare's shuttle service picked her up, said Evtropova.
The lawsuit outlines a number of concerns about how the daycare operated, including failing to:
- Provide a clean, sanitary and safe environment.
- Employ qualified staff.
- Maintain proper child to staff ratios.
- Properly store food and drink to prevent contamination, infection and illness.
Their concerns about the facility, which has since been shut down due to numerous health infractions, seem to be shared by parents of other children formerly under the facility’s care.
CBC’s Travis Dhanraj spoke with some parents who said the owner lied to them about the daycare being fully licensed and showed them false documentation.
Police have not yet released the toddler’s cause of death. However, the family’s lawyer said information from the coroner’s office that Eva's death was "100 per cent preventable" allowed the Ravikovichs to proceed with the lawsuit.
Here are some questions to ask agencies and different child care providers, according to the Ontario Ministry of Education:
- How does the agency choose providers?
- What happens when providers are sick or on vacation?
- Do providers have special training?
- What is the agency's philosophy or approach when working with providers?
- What kind of activities do providers do with the children? Are there opportunities to experience art, music, group and individual play and indoor and outdoor play?
- What hours of care are available? Are they flexible?
- How many children are at each location?
- What age groups are at each location?
- How soon is care available?
- What is the cost of care? Are there any additional charges? Is there a charge when children are sick or away on holiday? Is there an application fee?
- Is transportation provided if children have to travel a distance to and from school?
- Is a fee subsidy available?
- What are your hours?
- How many children do you care for (including your own)? What are the ages of the children you have in care?
- Who else lives in the home and may or may not have access to your child?
- What training do you have?
- What areas of the home will the children have access to?
- What kinds of meals and snacks are provided? Are they nutritious?
- How do you deal with children's misbehaviour? Offer "what if" scenarios. For example, what if a child hits another child? What if a child throws a tantrum over a toy another child is playing with?
- Do you toilet train children and how do you approach the training?
- Do you show television shows or movies to the children? How much time do the children spend watching television or movies each day?
- How many staff members care for each group? How many children are in a group?
- Are staff registered as early childhood educators with the College of Early Childhood Educators?
- Can the centre accommodate the special needs of children?
- Are parents encouraged to drop in?
- Do you have a waiting list?
- What is your philosophy or approach to working with children?