Day home licensing organizations in Alberta conduct safety review

Organizations overseeing licensed day homes in Alberta have begun working on a review of the Child Care Licensing Act.

Findings will be presented to province for consideration

A number of child care organizations in Alberta are reviewing the Child Care Licensing Act and will make recommendations to the provincial government.

Organizations overseeing licensed day homes in Alberta are exploring possible changes to the Child Care Licensing Act, which will then be presented to the provincial government.

The group represents "a wide spectrum of perspectives across the child care sector," Cheryl Crowther, spokeswoman for the Alberta Family Child Care Association (AFCCA) told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"So representatives from daycare, family child care, out of school care and other child care aspects that pertain to the act," she said.

The review is aimed at improving safety for children under care in the roughly 2,000 licensed day homes around Alberta, including 653 in Calgary.

The province will take the recommendations under advisement, said Human Services spokesman Aaron Manton in a statement.

"As part of regular review of legislation, the government continues to study safe sleep practices and products in the context of both licensed child care providers and private day care arrangements," he said .

"We are also exploring how other jurisdictions approach healthy and safe child care in order to best support the well-being of Alberta's children."

The review comes as authorities charged an unlicensed, or private, day home operator in Calgary in the death of 18-month-old Ceira McGrath, who was found unresponsive in a car seat following a nap in November 2015. She later died in hospital.

Elmarie Simons, 57, of Calgary, is charged with one count of criminal negligence causing death. Police said Simons continued to operate the private day home until she was arrested on Wednesday.

Crowther said she'd like to see stricter regulations put in place around private day homes.

"Right now, all there is, is they can have six children, not including their own," she said.

"So if they have five children of their own, they could potentially have 11 children and there's no overseeing body checking into what's happening, there's nowhere they have to register so there's no way to even know how many there are."

Licensed vs. unlicensed day homes

The difference between a licensed and unlicensed day home is oversight by organizations like Child Development Dayhomes (CDD). 

It's one of dozens falling under the umbrella of the AFCCA, said Crowther, who is also an assistant director of the Calgary-based CDD.

"We have a set of standards from the government that are followed," she said.

"We do the background work for parents, so criminal record checks, including a vulnerable sector search on all adults in the home, thorough, in-depth safety checks that are completed to make sure the home is completely child-proof, medical certificate on the family child-care provider to make sure physically and emotionally they are able to assume this responsibility."

The group also does reference checks and professional development.

"There's also monthly monitoring," said Crowther.

"We do unannounced visits on the home to make sure all these standards are in place and there is educational activities that are age appropriate."

Some parents choose an unlicensed day home thinking it's a cheaper option, which isn't always true, said Crowther.

"There is such a wide range of fees out there between licensed and private, so some might not necessarily be cheaper," she said.

"As well with licensed day homes, parents, if they have a moderate to lower income, they can apply for a government subsidy to help them with the fees, private babysitters do not have access to any of this funding."


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story indicated the provincial government was conducting the review. In fact a committee of child care groups will study what changes should be made and report to the province.
    Aug 05, 2016 3:50 PM MT