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Debra Schubert at her practicum.

After the alleged assault of a 14-month-old girl in an unlicensed day home in Pilot Butte, questions have arisen about Saskatchewan’s unlicensed daycares.

A search of the Government of Saskatchewan’s website indicated there are 141 licensed day cares in Regina. Unlicensed day homes are legal in Saskatchewan, but the only piece of legislation that applies to them concerns the number of children and the ages of the children in the care of the provider.

Cindy Jeanes, director of early learning and childcare service delivery with the ministry of education, says the only way that the ministry can monitor unlicensed daycare is through complaints. The ministry can then only make suggestions to the provider.

“(If) a person has a concern about supervision, that children are outside unsupervised or there’s a concern about what children are being fed, our consultants can provide some information about proper nutrition or with regard to appropriate supervision.”

The ministry's “authority in unlicensed [childcare] is specific to the numbers and ages of children... Providers, hopefully, will take that additional information and implement it. I believe people want to do the best they can when they’re caring for children,” she said.

Shauna Coons, program head for the early childhood education program-Regina campus, said that although there are a lot of quality unlicensed daycares out there, proper training is important because “you’re handing over the lives of young children to people to care for, for anywhere from five to 12 hours a day. It would make sense that people would have a very good understanding of children’s growth and development… that they would be able to prepare an environment that would be inviting and feel like home.”

“These are young children’s lives,” she added. “You’re affecting the lives of children and families. This isn’t just, you know, sit down and have a ball of Play-Doh and have a good time.”

As for the advantages of a licensed childcare facility over an unlicensed one, Coons said, “When you are licensed, you do have a set of criteria by which you must operate and you do have a consultant from the ministry of education who comes out and not only makes sure that you are following those regulations but also supports you, guides you, gives you that extra information that you might need in order to provide that quality care.”

“When you’re in a licensed child care facility, you’re more accountable,” said Debra Schubert, a mother of three and social work practicum student. “You’re always accountable so if my daughter fell and got a little bump, any little bump that she got, the daycare had to fill out a report and it was like everybody knew what had happened and there was more accountability for everything, even if it seemed insignificant.”

Schubert also said finding childcare of any kind can be difficult. “That’s your baby, you know, you want the best care for them. A person can be really nice to you and then you don’t actually know what’s going to happen when you shut the door… You don’t really know what you’re getting into,” she said.