The sad story about the Winnipeg toddler who suffered chemical burns at an unlicensed home day care is yet another reminder that improving access to quality licensed child care needs to be a priority for our new government.
The parents of over 15,000 children on the provincial waiting list prefer licensed day care but can’t get a space. In the meantime, it can be safely assumed that a very large number of those children go to home day care that is not licensed, or illegal home day care where the number of children exceed the allowable maximum. A license is required when the provider has more than 4 children under the age of 12, including no more than two children under the age of two, including the caregivers own children. If more than 4 children receive care, the home must become licensed. However, there is no formal monitor on child care that is not licensed, so it’s up to parents or the public to provide the over-site and report illegal operators.
Manitoba’s Community Child Care Standards Act and its regulations define the types of child care that need licensing and set minimum standards for supervision, staff qualifications, space, equipment, health and safety, nutrition, programming and behavior management. Once licensed, homes and centres are inspected by government staff on an ongoing basis to ensure standards continue to be met.
Government says it is working on a plan to address the shortage of licensed child care spaces in our province. The plan should include a strategy to license the current unregulated home child operators who can meet the existing evidence based quality standards. The plan should not include lowering what government calls the ” cumbersome regulatory framework” to help home based day care providers qualify for a license. That could sink our highly regarded child care system down to the lowest common denominator.
A better approach is to introduce research based recommendations for quality enhancement in home child care (YBIC, Doherty et al, 2000) including increased provider preparation and professional development, increased infrastructure supports and income enhancements, and public awareness strategies about the importance of children’s early learning.
With National Child Day approaching November 20, let’s also commit to the The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by Canada, which states that:
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by the public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
Posted by Jodie Kehl at 3:57 pm