Additional funding for licensed child care ‘just a drop in the bucket’: parent advocate
Ryan McGrath, father of Ceira Lynn McGrath, would like to see all child care in the province regulated
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Parent advocates for stricter day home legislation in Alberta say the steps the provincial government are taking simply aren’t enough.
Ryan McGrath is the father of Ceira Lynn McGrath, the 18-month-old who died in hospital last November after being rushed from her private Silverado dayhome in medical distress after having a nap in a car seat.
McGrath said the additional $10 million invested into childcare by the province just skims the surface of what he believes needs to be done.
“It just seems like a drop in the bucket. I'm sorry, but throwing three per cent more money at opening spaces doesn’t address the root problems,” he said. “It’s a band aid solution, I thought they were going to do more—maybe they still have plans to do that in the future.”
The additional $10 million is aimed at expanding access to more regulated early childhood education and care spaces, but McGrath said the unregulated private day homes will remain problematic.
“From what Calgary police investigators have told me, they think there are more children in unlicensed dayhomes than there are in licensed facilities—and he’s likely right,” he said. “I think there are just monsters out there and they just do whatever they want.”
McGrath and his wife have since moved Ceira Lynn's twin brother Colby to a new licensed dayhome. McGrath said he believes Alberta’s childcare laws—specifically surrounding dayhomes—are some of the most relaxed in the country.
Over the last number of months there have been numerous incidents involving unlicensed dayhomes in Calgary, including the alleged sexual assault of children at a Midnapore dayhome. Accused is 69-year-old Calgary man Kenneth Alfred Jenkinson.
“How many vulnerable children need to die, or be taken advantage of?” said McGrath. “I wonder how many little kids aren't or can't report what's really going on behind un-monitored closed doors.”
A spokesperson for Early Childhood Development for the Ministry of Human Services said their executive director had met with the McGrath family and “is looking into options to address these issues.”
Under the Child Care Licensing Act, unlicensed dayhomes are allowed to have up to six children under their care at one time. Penalties for operating without a licence in violation of the Act are determined by the court and include a maximum $10,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Unlike licensed dayhomes, unlicensed day homes are not inspected by the Family Day Home Agency for compliance unless a complaint is issued.
“They should all have to be licensed or registered somehow and checked in some way,” said McGrath.
BY THE NUMBERS
How many licensed dayhomes are there?
- In Alberta? 1,992
- In Edmonton? 700 in Edmonton Region
- In Calgary? 632 in Calgary Region
How many unlicensed dayhomes are there?
We do not have data on unlicensed child care arrangements.