Province now on right track, says childcare advocate

Government says it will now consider changes to the regulation of unlicensed daycares.

Government to consider changes to regulation.

A childcare advocate says the government is now on the right track when it comes to unlicensed home daycares. (CBC)

A childcare advocate says the government is now on the right track when it comes to regulating unlicensed daycares.

A CBC story shed light on concerns about private, unlicensed daycares. It pointed out that the government does not know how many there are, and it doesn't investigate complaints about caregiver negligence. Now Education Minister Russ Marchuk said the government will consider changes.  The government says it's considering regulating those unlicensed daycares.

"I think it's a very positive response from the minister in terms of putting the child first," said Rick Cuttell, the executive director of the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association. 

Cuttell said he's happy that the government is taking a closer look at this issue.

"We want to make sure that every child in this province is safe and that every parent is assured that the quality of care for that child throughout the day is of the highest quality," said Rick Cuttell with Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association.

Under present regulations, private, unlicensed home daycares cannot be shut down unless problems are considered criminal.

In Saskatchewan there are currently 10,752 licenced spots and 2,518 more are in the works, however, the province is home to 68,760 children younger than four years old.

Most young children spend their days at unlicensed day homes, which run without much oversight.

The lack of regulation is leaving some parents no choice but to take their complaints about unsafe and unsanitary conditions  online.

The government says instead people should now take their concerns to the ministry of education.

"The safety of children is paramount," said Marchuk. "The Ministry of Education will investigate every single complaint that comes our way." It's not clear how the province is going to investigate complaints about unlicensed daycares.

Finding a licenced spot not easy

Patience Purington was just accepted to the Gabriel Dumont Institute this fall, but doesn't know if she'll be able to attend this year.

She has a two-year-old and an eight-year-old daughter, who would be in need of daycare while she was at school.

"There's a lot of waiting lists you have to sign up for," said Purington. "And being  the way this school works, I just got notice this week that I start next week. And so a waiting list, it puts you in that position of what do you do," she said.

To qualify for subsidized care, Purington needs two licenced daycare spots.

She's trying to stay positive, but the shortest waitlist she's found runs between three to six months.

"It doesn't look good," said Purington. "I found a friend who might be able to help out for a month. Outside of that I don't know. Outside of that honestly I'm not going to end up doing it for this semester anyways for sure. It just doesn't look hopeful"


With files from CBC's Jennifer Quesnel