Government buddy buddy again with daycare

A beleaguered Whitehorse daycare has reopened under a three-month interim licence. Health and Social Services shut down Curious Buddies Day/Night…

A beleaguered Whitehorse daycare has reopened under a three-month interim licence.

Health and Social Services shut down Curious Buddies Day/Night Care and Pre-school earlier this month, despite pressure from parents using the centre.

Owner Lillian McCuaig was denied a permanent licence after a child services branch inspector reported persistent health and safety violations.

Problems with record keeping, RCMP checks and programming deficiencies were cited as reasons for closing the daycare, according to child services.

The parents of 44 children were forced to find alternative care.

But now the children can go back as the government has granted McCuaig a three-month licence.

“They have brought these areas of concern back into compliance and we feel comfortable reissuing them a licence,” said Health and Social Services spokesperson Pat Living.

Curious Buddies reopened Friday with no restrictions on its licence, but the department will inspect the centre on a regular basis.

“There will be more spot inspections than usual, and if the patterns don’t persist we’ll look at an extension,” said Living.

“(The staff) needs to demonstrate they understand the issues that got them into this situation.”

McCuaig and her staff spent about 10 days training with government officials.

Staff reviewed child safety procedures, record maintenance, and programming issues with child services employees.

McCuaig felt she was being singled out while other daycares with violations remained open.

Opposition leaders spoke out with parents in support of the daycare and pressured Health and Social Services Minister Brad Cathers to quickly resolve the issue.

Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell asked why Curious Buddies is being treated differently.

“Does the department truly believe the health and welfare of the children are at risk in this daycare?” said Mitchell earlier this month.

The government should be working with Curious Buddies rather than punishing staff and parents, said NDP Leader Todd Hardy.

Cabinet communications staff previously said the matter was operational in nature and Cathers could do nothing about the situation.

Cathers later wrote letters condemning public comments from Liberals and NDP.

The department is satisfied with its handling of the daycare debacle, said Living.

“Our standard practices aren’t going to change,” she said. “The regulations are in place to protect children and the system worked as it’s supposed to.”

McCuaig has spent four years working in Whitehorse daycares, and opened Curious Buddies in November 2007.

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