City exploring business licenses for child care providers

Woolfsmith said installing reasonable and basic barriers to entry will prevent makeshift operations that prey on parents of children.


Some council members were moved to tears during a meeting Thursday when they heard from parents of children who had been harmed or killed in unregulated day care.

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The city seeks to introduce business licenses for those unregulated homes beginning in 2023. The move would mean that day homes providing child care without provincial regulation would have to meet new standards, such as first aid certification and police checks for all adults in home. .

The council heard from two parents who were lobbying for the change. Shelby Stewart’s youngest son was assaulted while she was staying at an unregulated day home, while Jennifer Woolfsmith’s 22-month-old daughter, Mackenzy, was killed at a day home.

The couple founded an organization called Mackenzy’s Legacy to bring about change in the industry.

Stewart, who is a police officer, told the council of the shock she felt when she realized her 18-month-old son had been assaulted while at home. Her husband noticed marks on the child when they picked him up.

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“I knew what I was seeing was petechiae and not a rash,” Stewart said.

She said the injury is caused by broken blood vessels under the skin.

“I was working in the domestic violence unit at the time, and this was an injury I frequently saw in strangulation victims. (He) was covered from his chest, to around his neck and ears, and all the way down to his face.”

The courts later found that her son had been assaulted by the operator of the day home and that there had been other victims. The person responsible was sentenced to five months in prison.

Woolfsmith then shared the story of her daughter’s death in 2012 and talked about how no regulations have been introduced since a public inquiry into her daughter’s death.

“Despite the investigation of deaths, despite everything we learned through the criminal proceedings, nothing of substance has been put in place to prevent these tragedies,” Woolfsmith said.

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The investigation, conducted by Judge Joshua Hawkes, called for a review of the province’s child care system.

Woolfsmith said installing basic and reasonable barriers to entry will prevent stealthy operations that prey on parents of children.

“In the future, we hope that in Calgary you can’t just put up a Kijiji ad on a Friday and create a pop-up day home, because you may need some extra money and have a full list of children by Monday. Woolfsmith said.

Mackenzy Woolfsmith
Mackenzy Woolfsmith

The Council’s plan would include some costs for day home operators, including a $172 annual fee for their business license and another $65 for the caregiver’s background check. People over the age of 18 who live in their households would also have to undergo background checks.

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Those fees will be waived for the first few months after the regulations go into effect, in order to encourage compliance.

Once enacted, operating without a business license could result in a $1,000 fine.

In addition to raising new barriers to entry for potential child care providers, the council is also looking to explore planning and development tools that would allow for more child care spaces in the city.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who helped spearhead the proposed changes through a notice of motion while she was still a city councilwoman in 2021, said the city was striving to make this work after seeing the province continue to allow operations. of unregulated day houses.

The mayor said Woolfsmith and Stewart put things in context for her with a comparison.

“We have requirements for people who want chickens and pets, but none for people who care for children,” Gondek said. “So if that helps with any kind of context, thanks for making that comparison.”

The motion was approved by the committee with a unanimous vote. The proposed changes will still need to get final approval from the Calgary council at a future meeting.

[email protected]
Twitter: @brodie_thomas

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