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Daycare license suspended as toddler death in Mission investigated

(iStock Photo)

Police, health authority investigating after death of 23-month-old child who wandered from a Mission daycare

Previous violations Melissa's Bright Beginnings Childcare Centre include caring for too many children under age 3

BC Family Child Care Association suggests parents generally ask to see licensed daycare's documents

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –¬†The license of a daycare in Mission has been suspended after the death of a toddler on Wednesday. The girl was found unresponsive in a neighbouring swimming pool.

On top of the police investigation, the health authority is also looking into the death of the 23-month-old child.

Documents from Fraser Health reveal there were previous violations found during a surprise inspection of Melissa’s Bright Beginnings Childcare Centre back in January, including caring for too many children under the age of three and “challenges” with direct supervision due to the layout of the physical space.

“Rooms are divided by walls making direct line of vision not possible. During the time Licensing was on-site, some children were having lunch and some children were in the main play area,” wrote the inspector.

After taking corrective action, the daycare owner had to follow up with a written response to Fraser Health, which said it “looks forward to a continued working relationship with the provider.”

While not referring to this case in particular, Rena Laberge with BC Family Child Care Association has some advice for parents worried about finding quality, safe care for their children.

“If they are licensed, ask to actually see that license and you can go online to look at the licensing reports. If they are not licensed, ask if they are registered with your local childcare resource and referral office because they do go through a checklist with them,” she tells NEWS 1130.

Failing that, Laberge says parents need to carefully check references.

“Ask a lot of questions of those references and definitely visit the location and check out the whole area they are using for childcare. If they stop you at the door, that’s a red flag and I would walk away myself. You must be able to see the whole location.”

And if parents have any reservations, she recommends they quickly move on.

“If you have any red flags or the little hairs go up on the back of your neck, I would start walking away,” she¬†advises.

“It is hard to find quality out there but you need to go with your gut and keep looking. Put out feelers with your friends, in mom-and-babe groups, and maybe talk to the local school to see if they know someone in the area open to childcare who might have space.”

Laberge says, ideally, parents want to find a childcare provider who meshes with their values and will work with them.

“It’s a two-way street. Definitely have conversations with your child care provider, whether you have concerns or if you’re happy. Let them know and keep the communication going back and forth.”