Parents plead with government to keep Pierrefonds daycare open
A group of parents in Pierrefonds is making a plea to stop their daycare from shutting down.
It's called Ethan's Playground and according to the Quebec government, it's operating illegally. But the owner believes she's being unfairly targeted in a push to crack down on illegal daycares.
Since 2003, the daycare has been what Quebec calls a “jardin d'enfants,” which allows preschool kids to attend for up to four hours a day.
In 2013, owner Jennifer de Vera called the family ministry about extending her hours. She says they were told to go ahead on three separate occasions. But in January, they were visited by ministry inspectors.
“They came to our doors saying you have more than six children, you can't have that many children. Now they want us to be a subsidized daycare and they want us to lose our jardin d'enfants status,” De Vera said.
The government’s response is that the law is clear: De Vera's operation does not meet criteria to be considered a drop-in daycare or a preschool, which makes it illegal.
Parents say the government is targeting the wrong kind of place and want it to allow the daycare to stay open while they work out the dispute.
“Other daycares are still opened where there's been abuse, where children have been burned. They’re still open. It makes no sense,” said Christina White.
Parent Nahreen Sheeno says she hit the jackpot with the daycare.
“The warmth, the caring, and the love my daughter walks out of here saying ‘I love you Miss Jen.’ You can't put a price tag on that,” she said.
So far, two similar daycares have reached out in order to help find ways to avoid Ethan’s Playground closing their doors and leaving everyone in the lurch. De Vera says she can't afford to wait up to a year for a permit.
“Instead of working against us, why not work with us? Figure out a way that the ministry can go to all the alternative daycares like mine and work together so that we won't lose our businesses. The kids don't lose their spots and employees won't lose their jobs,” de Vera said.