When single mom Emily Weedon signed her daughter up for a YMCA program this summer, she knew it wouldn't be enough child care to cover her long work days, so she lined up babysitters to pick up her 8-year-old.
But Weedon said the YMCA told her the babysitters — including several 13-year-olds — were too young to pick up her daughter, Ginger.
"I'm being told that I have to make the time to find people to basically be the babysitter of my babysitter," the Toronto mother said.
Weedon, who works in the film industry, is now raising questions about the YMCA's child pick-up procedures, saying the organization's position is unfair to parents — particularly single moms and dads who are juggling work and parenting.
And, she asks, if a parent deems a babysitter acceptable, why does their age matter?
YMCA only releases children to people 16 and older
The YMCA, which operates summer camps and various youth programs, will only release children to people who are 16 and older, confirmed Lorrie Huggins, the organization's general manager of training research and program development in Toronto.
But, Huggins added, the organization works with parents to figure out what they need, which can mean hooking them up with other parents picking up their children, or matching them with teenagers 16 and older who might want a part-time babysitting job.
So what's the reason for the cut-off at 16? "It's based on the law and it's based on evidence and best practice for children, for keeping children safe while supervised," Huggins told CBC Toronto.
In Ontario's Child and Family Services Act, there is a stipulation that no one "having charge of a child less than sixteen years of age shall leave the child without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances."
'I believed in the 3 girls I hired'
But many organizations and community groups make different age recommendations, and "public information provided to families and professionals does not always reflect the text of the law," according to 2015 research from the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal.
Most babysitting courses, for instance, are offered for children as young as 11, the research notes.
"People have sitters who are between 13 and 16," Weedon said. "Does that mean every sitter out there, who's taken his or her babysitter courses, is not allowed to be with a child?"
Now, Weedon is pushing the YMCA to take a more accommodating stance, and says she has written the organization a letter explaining her concerns.
"I believed in the three girls I hired [as babysitters] ... I have the best interest of my child at heart, and I should be respected for what I'm doing," she said.