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Mother says little girl forgotten by daycare workers, left outside in rain

Kawtar Afiri and her daughter, Sofia, stand outside the Kids & Company daycare.
Kawtar Afiri and her daughter, Sofia, stand outside the Kids & Company daycare. Kawtar Afiri

Kawtar Afiri said she’s distraught and suffering from anxiety after finding her 18-month-old daughter crying and alone in the yard of her daycare last Friday.

“It was windy outside and it had started raining. She had no jacket on and she was forgotten there alone, outside,” she told Global News.

“She was forgotten in the playground that is not attached to the daycare.”

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Afiri had gone to pick up Sofia at 5:40 p.m. from Kids & Company, a private daycare in downtown Montreal — earlier than her usual time.

READ MORE: Investigation launched after toddler missing from daycare dies in backyard pool

She estimates the toddler was left outside for about 20 minutes, but insists the worst part is that the educators on duty apparently told her they simply forgot to count the children.

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She says there were three educators responsible for the group of six children.

Sofia, 18-months-old, was left outside her daycare for 20 minutes without supervision.
Sofia, 18-months-old, was left outside her daycare for 20 minutes without supervision. Kawtar Afiri

“The reaction of the manager is, we’re going to refund you for the month of May and give you a few months free in another location,” she said.

“I said, ‘I don’t want your money. I want you to send a letter to all parents to let them know what happened.’ They said they were not going to do that.”

“My daughter is 18 months. If it was winter, it could have been cold outside,” she told Global News.

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Afiri says she was advised by police to contact the security office that takes care of the building.

READ MORE: Searching for daycare is an ordeal — but economists say don’t blame the market

The security guard on duty that day refused Global News’ request for an interview about the incident, but confirmed that it did take place and there is security footage of the toddler outside.

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Kawtar Afiri and her daughter, Sofia.
Kawtar Afiri and her daughter, Sofia. Kawtar Afiri

Afiri has filed a complaint with Quebec’s family ministry, who responded by letter acknowledging it and notifying her that an inspector will be sent to the daycare.

Afiri says her daughter is now sick with a fever.

READ MORE: How dangerous are the germs at your child’s playground and daycare?

“I haven’t slept since Friday. When I close my eyes, I remember that. I had a panic attack, so I started to cry,” Afiri said, adding that she suffered four miscarriages in her five years of trying for a child.

“She [the educator] just said to me, ‘Oh thank God she’s alive.’ I said, ‘Really? Really?'”

In a written statement to Global News, the daycare’s head office, located near Toronto, said: “Two educators were present with six children in the enclosed outdoor play space adjacent to the centre. After lining up, and counting all the children to go back inside, one of the children then left the group and ended up in the play house, unnoticed.”

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“The other teacher was outside securing the play area and speaking to a parent. This teacher did a scan of the play area, but unfortunately did not see the child in the play house.”

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The daycare said it believes the child was in the play house for less than three minutes when her mother came to pick her up.

It also conducted its own internal investigation into the matter.

“The other teacher had remained outside the entire time in the same area as the child. We take child supervision very seriously,” the daycare told Global News.

“The company has robust supervision policies in place and have recently completed a full internal investigation. All teachers have been reminded of our outdoor play, supervision, and attendance policies and have signed off on specific forms. Safeguarding the children in our care continues to be of utmost importance.”

READ MORE: Quebec’s daycare model provides inspiration for provinces to develop their own

Afiri says she plans to sue the daycare and has a meeting with a lawyer Friday.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca