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Author Topic: Toddler's death sparks warnings over water safety  (Read 2878 times)

Offline CareDC

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Toddler's death sparks warnings over water safety
« on: July 29, 2010, 10:07:20 PM »
The tragic death of a toddler who drowned in a backyard swimming pool at an Orleans daycare where at least 22 children were present has officials urging parents and caregivers to keep a closer eye on kids when they're near water.

Jérémie Audette was pronounced dead in hospital after he was found floating face-down in a backyard swimming pool Wednesday morning.

Jérémie was visiting the daycare for a play date with other children in the neighbourhood when the drowning occurred.

The circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. However, several caregivers were present at the time of the incident. Ottawa police are still investigating the case.

Toddler drownings

The Red Cross says drowning is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian children between the ages of one and four.

Water safety experts say it takes less than 30 seconds for a child to drown, making it extremely important for parents and caregivers to be vigilant.

Recent statistics show that adults were supervising children in 38 per cent of all infant and toddler drownings.

"Toddlers don't have the ability to self rescue, even if they have taken swimming lessons, and they may not have the ability to call out for help," said Heather Badenoch, of the Canadian Red Cross.

Offline CareDC

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Re: Toddler's death sparks warnings over water safety
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2010, 05:09:45 PM »
An independent Ottawa daycare provider with 14 years of experience says she's fed up with incomprehensible child-care legislation.

What the province's laws and regulations allow has been a key question since the drowning of two-year-old Jérémie Audette in a pool at a home-based daycare in Orléans on Wednesday. Several caregivers had brought their charges to the house for a pool party, but it's not clear whether such a gathering violated a law limiting the number of children who can be in a daycare at once.

The independent provider frustrated with the system, who asked that her name not be published because she's afraid of retaliation by regulators, organized playdates with a daycare run by someone else in her family, in a separate house.

The two daycares looked after five children each, the maximum allowed for an unlicensed daycare under provincial law, but the children would get together for music classes, birthday parties and educational programs.

Sometimes they'd also join up when a child fell ill, or when one daycare provider needed an extra hand.

"We're supposed to do this so we don't go crazy in the corner by ourselves," the woman said.

Separately, the Citizen has been told by Gudrun Klingelstein, the resource centre director at Ottawa's Centrepointe Childcare Services agency, that caregivers are supposed to get together because "caring for children in isolation is not the best environment."

(Klingelstein's agency is a licensed provider that oversees 40 daycares.)

The woman has been at odds with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services since 2000, when she received a letter from the ministry asking her to "limit visits" with the other daycare. On another occasion, an inspector showed up when the two daycares were in the middle of a playdate in the woman's home. That time, the inspector told the woman the two groups could not visit.

He said he believed the woman was operating a daycare agency, or a series of daycares at more than one location.

The inspector pointed out that the woman did the bookkeeping for both daycares. The children from her daycare would sometimes move on to the other daycare when they got older. The staff of the daycares were "shared," the inspector said.

Following the inspection, the ministry asked the woman to either get a licence for her daycare or cut ties with five of the children in the daycares.

The woman refused to break a contract with her clients. Instead, she responded by presenting the ministry with contracts from the parents of all of the children to show that there are two separate daycares.

She opened a second bank account and asked the manager of the other daycare to handle her own bookkeeping.

In January 2009, the ministry informed the woman that it was taking her to court because the children in the two daycares had not been separated, as per the ministry's request.

"We changed everything they didn't like, and they still want $34,000," she said. "If it's wrong, why hasn't anybody told me?"

The woman blames the ministry for not clearly educating independent daycare owners about the the Day Nurseries Act.

The act applies specifically to a "day nursery," which it defines as a "premises which receives more than five children who are not of common parentage, primarily for the purpose of providing temporary care, or guidance." Smaller, less formal daycares like hers are not covered by the act.

The woman said that when she has more than five children in her home for a playdate, she does not consider herself responsible for the "care" and "guidance" of visiting children.

"If you're coming in with a parent or caregiver, the person you are visiting is not the one giving care or guidance," she said. "You're visiting for social purposes I'm not giving care for these other children. They're coming with their own caregivers, with their own contracts."

According to the act, home daycare providers who care for more than five children under the age of 10 without a licence can be fined up to $2,000 day and could face a year in jail.

This is where the law gets confusing, because it isn't clear under what circumstances an unlicensed daycare provider can have more than five children in his or her home.

"It's hard to use it as a reference point," the woman said. "There's a systematic ignoring of unlicensed or independent daycares in the act. There's a tremendous bias."

Even the government doesn't seem to have a clear response to the question.

"An informal child care provider who is not associated with a private home daycare agency may care for up to five children under 10 years of age in addition to his or her own children," Ministry of Education spokesman Gary Wheeler wrote in an e-mail to the Citizen Thursday. "These numbers cannot be exceeded in a private residence, regardless of the number of adults present."

Responding to a follow-up question on Friday, he added: "Within a licensed day care setting any child care providers planning activities off the premises are encouraged to take children to public places, such as an Ontario Early Years Centre, a library, etc. Public places have been designed for groups of people to gather."

But he also emphasized that the ministry doesn't regulate unlicensed daycares - and couldn't shed any more light on whether unlicensed providers can get together for playdates in one house without running afoul of the law.

"Ministry staff will look into complaints from the public about a caregiver who may be regularly taking care of more than five unrelated children," Wheeler wrote.

The frustrated daycare provider said an assistant to her MPP, Ottawa Centre Liberal Yasir Naqvi, was told that a daycare group of five children under the age of 10 may visit another daycare in a public place, such as a neighbourhood park.

But the woman said her home is safer and more controlled than any unregulated public space.

If the legislation surrounding visits to daycares were clearer, the woman said, she would know how to follow it.

The ministry proposed a different solution to the woman's confusion.

"I've been told in no uncertain terms by the ministry that if I would just license, all of the trouble would go away," she said.

But the woman said she will not get a licence.

As an unlicensed caregiver, she can accept children of any age into her daycare. There are complicated age restrictions for licensed daycares, she said.

"If you've found a good family that likes your daycare, you are not going to be able to accept them," she said. "You are not going to turn away somebody because the birthday overlaps somebody else's one-year-old by one day."

Licensed daycares miss out on babies cared for by mothers on maternity leave. Fewer four- and five-year-olds attend licensed daycares because they can go to pre-school, she explained.

The woman sees her daycare as a small business. She said she charges clients a bit more than a licensed daycare because she provides home-cooked meals and has extra teachers on staff.

"I can't put myself out of business. Plus, I like the families I have, I like the teachers I have," she said.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2010, 05:11:47 PM by CareDC »

Offline CareDC

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Re: Toddler's death sparks warnings over water safety
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2010, 07:51:09 PM »
Ottawa police say no criminal charges in toddler's day-care drowning

No charges will be laid in connection with the July drowning death of two-year-old Jérémie Audette at a private daycare in Orléans.

The toddler died July 28 after being pulled from a large above-ground pool in the backyard of 529 Rougemount Cres., where multiple caregivers and their charges had gathered for a playdate.

Despite efforts to resuscitate from people at the scene, firefighters and paramedics, the boy was pronounced dead after being taken to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

“We have no comment about it at this time,” a family member said of the police department’s announcement Monday afternoon.

The home care provider who lives at 529 Rougemount Cres., Wendy Andruszka-Lapierre, could not be reached for comment Monday.

An investigation continues into the boy’s death, conducted by the coroner and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, said Dr. Peter Clark, the regional supervising coroner of the east region based in Peterborough.


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