Less than a year after a territorial government inspection found unsafe heaters at a local daycare, a toddler there has been burned.
Martin Lehner said when he came home from work on Sept. 16 to play with his 11-month-old son Ethan, he noticed a pock-marked red blister on his son’s hand.
The burn didn’t appear serious enough for an emergency room visit, but a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart that evening confirmed it as a burn and suggested pain-relief medication and a cold compress.
Lehner’s wife, Katelyn, who had picked Ethan up from his regular daycare in the Marwell industrial area, said no one had mentioned anything about a burn to her when she picked up her son.
“Neither one of us was contacted by the daycare during the day, when it presumably would have happened, and nothing was said to my wife when we picked him up at the end of the day,” Lehner said.
The next day his wife called the daycare and spoke to the owner, who at first was unaware of the incident as well, said Lehner.
After speaking with staff, the owner told Katelyn that her son had indeed burned himself on a heater the day before, but couldn’t say why the parents weren’t notified immediately, said Lehner.
It also wasn’t the first time a toddler had been burned by the heaters, he said.
“What was explained to my wife, is that they have these heaters near the ground, and about a year ago an infant was burned by the heater. Child care services inspected, and said, ‘You have to put some grates on top of the heater’ … but they knew that the heater still got hot,” said Lehner.
Unsatisfied with the answer, Lehner said he went to the daycare the following day, hoping to see the heaters for himself and speak to the owner. She wasn’t there, and staff at the daycare told him they weren’t allowed to talk about what had happened, he said.
Frustrated, he turned to leave, and the owner’s daughter stopped him by the door, said Lehner.
“On the way out, the owner’s daughter said, ‘You know, you can’t say anything about this to anyone until you speak to my mom,’” he said.
“That kind of thing started to get a little concerning. I understand that daycares have to live on their reputation, and they’re pretty fierce about protecting it. That said, you guys have said you had this incident before with another child. You were told to rectify it, you admittedly say they are still too hot for kids to touch, but they’re still available,’” he said.
Lehner reported the incident to child care services, who are investigating, he said.
“They explained to me that the legislation requires (the daycare) to file a report, and to notify me, all things that didn’t happen,” said Lehner.
Both parents want answers about what happened, and especially about why they were not told about the incident.
“Did somebody just walk away for a second? Are these heaters on the floor? Why wasn’t first aid administered right away? Why wasn’t it reported to us when it happened, why wasn’t it reported when my wife went to pick him up? Why wasn’t there an incident report made to (the Yukon government)?”
While Lehner was reluctant to name the daycare for fear of possible legal action, there is only one licensed daycare in the Marwell industrial area: the Little Dreamers daycare.
Records of daycare investigations are not made public. The only public records are those of daycare inspections, which typically take about a week to be released. The most recent inspection record for Little Dreamers is from June 2013. The Department of Health and Social Services did not return repeated calls for comment by press time.
According to records, the daycare failed a government inspection in January 2013 for having space heaters that were accessible to children.
The same daycare also failed to meet government rules in April 2011 for baseboard heaters that were too hot; in February 2010 for having exposed telephone wires in the preschool area; and in December 2010 for having Tylenol that was accessible to children.
When the News spoke to Lori Austin, the owner of Little Dreamers, in person, she declined to comment. She also did not return repeated phone calls and emails sent by the News seeking comment for this story.
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