As casually as these parents appear to regard their protective responsibility to their young, perhaps they don't spend too much time searching for a reliably dependable care-giver. It's entirely possible that they sign on to the care of their vulnerable children, grateful to be accepted by people who declare their fitness to look to their child's welfare, unwilling to delve too deeply into suitability, anxious to secure a place for the child, to enable them to get on with more important things; their own paid employment.
As a young mother I can vividly recall my husband and me trying to stretch one inadequate paycheque to ensure that our little family was able to afford all the fundamental things required to ensure a decent and healthy lifestyle. The mortgage of the modest house we bought before our children were born was, like the house itself, modest, but a burden to us anyway. Our expenses were kept to a minimum.
We purchased items that were required. There were no vacations, no gifts, no luxury items, no preoccupation with having the latest gadgetry, electronic components without which no one can seem to be truly living in the modern world. Paying the milkman, buying fruits and vegetables and the staples out of which healthful meals could be produced was the order of our day. And maintaining a very small vehicle for a family of two adults, three children.
Whereas in today's world of parenthood children seem to be add-ons, not the premier reason for the family to occupy itself. It is required that households have the latest technology in flat-screen television sets, several family vehicles, and a house to match the parents' ambitions. Family vacations are often taken twice in a year; in March and again during the summer. The children are signed up for after-school recreational opportunities and ferried to and fro.
And to pay for these seeming necessities to a satisfying lifestyle, children are farmed out to day-care givers. Does the caregiver smoke, have clean and well-behaved domestic pets - have her own children to attend to, beyond offering her energies and attention to fulfil the needs of other peoples' children? Is the environment a safe one, does it offer stimulation to children for learning experiences? How many children in total does the caregiver commit herself to?
Under Ontario's Day Nurseries Act facilities committed to the care of more than five children under the age of ten, unrelated to the caregivers, must be licensed by the province. But there are more than enough caregivers looking after other peoples' children in their own homes who fly under the radar of provincial regulation, operating as unregistered caregivers.
Wouldn't the parents of young children want to know this vital thing, whether the province has certified the operation before handing their child over to the care of those who don't commit to register their operations legally? In Ottawa yesterday Ottawa police and emergency personnel investigated one such enterprise.
The result being that investigators with the Children's Aid Society, along with the police, shut down this unlicensed day care operation in a private residence, and arrested the caregiver. Suddenly-anxious parents arrived throughout the day to pick up their toddlers, eager to advance the notion that they had no idea that eleven children, all under the age of five, were being tended to by one single solitary caregiver.
A mother whose young child under the care of this caregiver had suffered a black eye and cuts and bruises had initiated the investigation. The mother subsequently had reported the caregiver to police. "We went to investigate allegations of neglect and made an arrest", according to a police spokesperson. And they did, accompanied by paramedics.
"I knew there were four or five. I never knew there were that many", according to one mother picking up her child at the site. Since there were eleven children necessitating a regular morning succession of vehicles arriving to deliver the children, it's hard to imagine any parent being ignorant of the facts, other than not wishing to know, to imperil their prized arrangements. Did they have no interest whatever in viewing their child and the activities in the environment they had arranged for the child?
As is usual when neighbourhoods become aware of some malfeasance on the part of one of their neighbours, people profess to being shocked at the events. They had no idea. These were really nice people. The day care had been operated out of the residence for the past decade; the homeowners having lived on the property for two decades, with their own grown children now out on their own.
The signals were there to be identified; seven to ten vehicles arriving daily, to drop off and pick up children. One of the neighbours recalled she had enquired years ago how many children her neighbour looked after, and she had accepted the response: "lots". But then, who wants to point a finger of accusation at a nice neighbour?
The caregiver has been charged with neglect of children's needs. Although why she should be the only one is beyond me. For the parents were the enablers here, not sufficiently interested in their own young infants' well-being to ensure they were adequately cared for.