Daycare owner arrested after 13-month-old gets second- and third-degree burns

A St. Vital daycare owner is facing criminal charges after an incident in October that left a toddler with second- and third-degree burns on her hands.

Parents hope for closure as Chantal Phippard heals

Fifteen-month-old Chantal Phippard got second- and third-degree burns all over her hands at an unlicensed daycare in October. (CBC)

A St. Vital daycare owner is facing criminal charges after an incident in October that left a toddler with second- and third-degree burns on her hands. 

The toddler's parents still don't know the exact circumstances around an incident on Oct. 12 at a Winnipeg daycare that left the skin on 13-month-old Chantal Phippard's hands peeling away, falling off and blistering from the wrist down.

Chantal, who is now 15 months old, had been going to the daycare for about six weeks beforehand, her parents say.

Winnipeg police Const. Jason Michalyshen said police arrested an adult on charges of causing bodily harm by criminal negligence, but can't identify the individual because the charges haven't been laid yet.

Chris Phippard, the toddler's dad, said he was told that police suspect his daughter's hands were put "into a container of some sort and the temperature of the hot water just caused the skin to blister and burn."

He added he's happy to see the daycare owner will be on trial.

"It's good that it'll go to trial and it's good that it'll be looked at. It validates that this is something that happened and needs to be reviewed, and I feel that whatever they decide, you know, will be fair," he said.

"I think we'll get closure. It helps."

Chris and Julie Phippard don't know the specifics of what happened to cause second- and third-degree burns all over 15-month-old Chantal's hands. (CBC)

Chantal was in the hospital for two weeks after the incident, Phippard said. She had to take pain medication and lost her appetite.

He and his wife don't know for sure what really happened to their daughter, although he said it appears the burns may have been caused by hot water or a chemical mixed into water.

"There's no witnesses," Phippard said, adding he hasn't been in touch with the daycare owner and doesn't know what she said in her statement.

"Chantal can't talk and the other children at the daycare are more or less the same age," he said. He believes there were two other children in the owner's care at the time of the incident - her own and another family's child.

He says he doesn't know if the burns were the result of an accident or deliberate action on the part of the daycare owner.

He and his wife also aren't sure yet if they'll pursue legal action against daycare owner, he said, because there are too many unknowns at this point.

"When I stop and I sit and I think, a lot of it's a little cloudy," Phippard said.

"It was pretty rough. It was hard being off work and hard taking care of our other children while this whole thing happens."

On the mend

For now, Chantal is doing physiotherapy and Phippard and his wife have to put sunscreen on her hands if it's sunny out.

Phippard's doctors are optimistic she'll make a full recovery. She's already back to running around, playing and picking up toys.

Phippard said there are no open wounds on her hands and the skin is growing back, but he's not sure how they'll look in the long run.

"Her hands are still scarred and it's hard to say what'll happen," he said.

"You know, she's still quite small and her hands will do a lot of growth over the years and we don't know kind of how they'll heal or what they'll look like."

Phippard expects a spot to open up for Chantal in a licensed daycare in January.

Until then, a family friend is watching her, he said. He and his wife have sent their kids to other unlicensed daycares in the past, but their experience has them concerned.

"I think for now we'll just stick with the licensed daycares," he said, adding he wants to learn more about how both licensed and unlicensed daycares operate.

"It's a pretty shocking thing, it's something that even now, months later hasn't 100 per cent set in," he said.

With files from Aidan Geary