Who's Watching The Baby?

Two years ago, a little girl named Eva died at an unlicensed daycare right here in Ontario.  Recently, her parents got the go-ahead to sue the Ontario government for their daughter's death.

After Eva's death, the daycare was searched and found to have 29 children and 14 dogs in their care.  The legal number of children allowed in an unlicensed child care in Ontario is 5.  Every province is different, but here in Ontario, the daycare in question was clearly acting illegally.

[caption id="attachment_8020" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Eva Ravikovich died in July 2013 at an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan, Ontario. Eva Ravikovich died in July 2013 at an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan, Ontario. (photo from www.torontostar.com)[/caption]

Eva's death was tragic, and should not have happened.  Perhaps things would have gone differently if the daycare provider had fewer children in her care and had been able to give Eva the attention she needed.

Eva's parents are probably hard workers, sincere in their efforts to provide well for their children, and I'm sure they loved their daughter more than their own lives.

But their lawsuit begs the question: Who is responsible for finding safe, legal child care?  Is it the government's job or is it the parents' job?

Parents, our children have been entrusted to us.  Let's not put blind faith in daycare providers when it comes to our children!

We need to be educating ourselves on the legislation surrounding child care in our own province or state.  We need to be holding child care providers to those standards.

How do we do that?  By asking questions.

Ask your daycare provider these questions and judge the safety of the daycare for yourself.

1.  How many children do you care for?

The right answer: In Ontario, for an unlicensed daycare, the correct answer is up to 5 under the age of 10, in addition to the provider's own children.  It does not matter how many adults are helping, if they have a summer student, or if they have older children that help out.  They may not go over the number 5.

In a licensed home daycare, providers may care for a maximum of 5 children under the age of 10 including their own children.  Of these children, no more than 2 can be under the age of 2, and no more than 3 can be under the age of 3.

In a licensed commercial daycare, the ratio varies.  For children aged 18 months and under there must be 3 teachers to 10 children.  For 18 months to 30 months, the ratio is 1 teacher to 5 children with a total of 15 children in the class.

Note: These rules will be changing in September 2015.  The new legislation states that the maximum number of children, for an unlicensed home daycare will be 5 under the age of 13 including the provider's own children.  See here for more information.

If you see 1 teacher or daycare provider for more than 5 children, they could be acting illegally.

2. What is your evacuation plan?

The right answer: This is not legislated, but your daycare provider should have a good idea of how he or she will get all of the children safely out of the house if there is a fire or other emergency.  Her plan should include an escape route, a strategy for getting the kids out, and an idea of what should happen next (ie. go to Joan's house across the street, call 911, then call parents).

3. How do you handle discipline?

The right answer: Distraction, Redirection, Time-Out/Time-In, Positive Reinforcement, Reward Systems, etc.

Never physical discipline, spankings, slapping or hitting.  Never verbal demeaning or insulting.  Never false consequences (ie.  "Your mommy will leave you here if you continue misbehaving.").  Never withholding food or drink.  Never complete isolation.

4. Where do the children nap?

The right answer: In play pens, Pack 'n Plays, cribs or cots.  If there were ever a fire during naptime, you want your child to be sleeping somewhere predictable so that emergency crews can find them easily.

5. Where do the children play?

The right answer: In a room with two exits, with outlets and wires safely covered, with age-appropriate toys and equipment, with no access to knives, alcohol, guns or chemicals.

There are many more questions that could be asked, but these are some of the most important ones.

We can not depend on the government to keep our children alive.  As much as I love and support our country and how it's run, parenting must be the responsibility of each parent as much as they are able.

Parents have no excuse to use unsafe and illegal daycare in most places in our country.  We are blessed with many options, and we need to explore them fully.  When it becomes a life and death issue, we need to take our responsibilities seriously.

Finding reliable, safe and legal child care is hard.  But losing a child to negligence is much, MUCH harder.

Do you have any experiences with illegal daycare in your area?


  1. I never put my kids into daycare because I couldn't justify the cost, but I went into their preschool with a LONG list of questions before I let them go.

  2. How so sad to hear of this tragedy! I don't understand how anyone would leave a child in a place they have not fully investigated!

  3. this is so sad and scary! Im grateful to be able to be home with my kids

  4. Bill 10 states that unlicensed home daycares can have no more 5 children including their own if their own children are under the age of 6. Any children over 6 do not count in this number. I haven't just read the new legislation but have called and asked questions. Unlicensed daycares will have until January 1st 2016 to change over to new rules. This applies only to those clients who were already in providers care before December 13th 2014 ( when the new childcare modernization act received royal assent). They should however be starting to make changes for an easier transition for when Bill 10 is proclaimed in September 2015.
    Didn't know if you were aware of this information so thought I would share.
    Your blog is great!

  5. What a sad story! I'm glad you're addressing the problem and offering great questions to ask. When my kids were little, I didn't trust anyone with them except for close relatives. I'm so thankful that I didn't have to use any daycare provider. Some friends of mine run a large day care and they have video cameras so the parents can watch online.

  6. Thank you for clarifying! To be honest, I found the information on the new legislation to be confusing. It just goes to show how careful and proactive providers and parents need to be in making sure that children are cared for legally and safely!

  7. Wow that is so sad for such a precious little baby girl. I am so afraid to put my daughter in the care of others so I am so thankful that I get to stay home with her.

  8. I definitely avoided daycares that seemed ill-prepared. We managed to find one that was fun for the kids and they learned each day too.

  9. This is such a sad story and I'm so heart broken to hear about baby Eva's death. I'm surprised no one had reported the unlicensed day care in the past. But I suppose since it was (probably) "cheap" daycare for the parents they underestimated what could potentially happen. :(

  10. This just makes me sick to my stomach!! I can't even imagine going through this as a parent. That poor family!!!

  11. What a tragic story. I know those parents are suffering. These are important questions to ask anyone that is caring for your children. I used in home care for my first child and then stayed home for my second. When I needed a break I took them to a church mom's day out plan. I made sure that I asked them these exact questions!

  12. Omg I hate reading sat things like this! And it's exactly why I stay at home with my daughter! She's getting to be school age now and omg.... This is the kind of thing I think about lol...

  13. I am glad the laws are changing. I can't imagine losing a child like that.

  14. My heart goes out to any parent who loses a child. Good to hear that the laws are changing. Protecting our children is so important.

  15. This is so sad. Losing a child is something NO parent should experience. How come they had so many children under supervision

  16. sharon phillips29 May 2015 at 13:44

    It's horrible the way things happen anymore. This is such a sad story. I hate to see when little children become the victims. I only allowed family to watch over mine when they were young. That was some 30 - 40 years ago. I didn't trust people then and still don't to this day.

  17. That is so sad. This is not right. Government needs to take immdiate action on illegal childcares.

  18. Fi Ní Neachtáin1 June 2015 at 00:03

    What an absolutely heartbreaking story, that poor baby girl. Luckily my son goes to a reputable playschool that's been around longer than I've been alive and it's fantastic for him.

  19. Such a sad thought that she lost her life in a daycare, I used to work for a really nice, small daycare and loved my job... I can't even imagine a situation like this for anyone involved, heartbreaking! :/

  20. Actually this illegal daycare was reported 4 times to the Ministry of Education but they didn't shut it down. They are now being sued for over 5 million.

  21. This story truly is sad but in my opinion the parents are just to blame as much as the providers. As a parent you need to do your due diligence instead of trying to save a buck. These parents never once stepped foot into the daycare.

  22. The government could have shut down this daycare but they didn't. They could have helped prevent this child's death. There was 4 complaints of this particular illegal daycare and the government failed to do their job.

  23. What a terrible tragedy. I have run a licensed home daycare for the past 5 years and I love it. These stories are the reason I continue to be licensed, so I can reassure parents of my medical checks, record checks, training and education as well as monthly unannounced visits from childcare professionals. One thing in your Q&A that I disagree with here is "How do you handle discipline" what you have listed as "the right answer". While I agree strongly with all your never's, I, and many other people refuse to use time outs, reward systems and the like. These are based on outdated B.F. Skinner methods conceived mid-twentieth century on the idea that behaviour is determined by consequence. Children want to behave well, our job is to figure out what is stopping them and to teach them the skills they lack. I encourage anyone who works with children to look into the CPS model as a highly effective, compassionate means to help all children, especially those with challenging behaviour.

  24. Great advice! While I see time-outs primarily as a way of allowing the children to have a bit of a break from one another and give them time to cool off, there are many alternatives to using them. Daycare providers need to research the options and use what works best for them and the children and families they care for.


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