Dozens of families are scrambling to make new plans for their children after the unexpected closure of a North York daycare.
“Just shock and disbelief and not really knowing what to do,” said Connie Choy, describing her feelings when she learned the daycare facility her three-year-old son, Marcus, had attended for much of his life, Willowbrae Academy North York, was shutting down indefinitely.
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“You find childcare for your children as best as possible and you feel that they would be there happy and secure — and then something happens so quickly,” Choy said. “It really affects us as a parent not really knowing what’s next.”
On Thursday, the daycare sent an email to Choy and other parents with children enrolled at the facility. It stated that, due to imminent roof repairs by the landlord, the daycare would lose access to its outdoor playground. This would put it out of compliance with the Child Care and Early Years Act, which requires childcare programs running six hours or more in a day to include an outdoor play area.
As a result, the email stated the academy would close indefinitely by end-of-day on Aug. 9.
“We know that you count on us to provide safe and high-quality care to your children and that this news will be as upsetting for you as it is for us,” the email stated. “The unfortunate reality is that we have no other choice in this matter.”
The company’s accounting team was working on a schedule for refunds, according to the email.
Attempts by Global News to speak with Willowbrae Academy North York and the landlord were unsuccessful.
More warning for parents
The situation has Michael Coteau’s, the MPP for Don Valley East, calling for more protections to ensure parents get better warning if their daycare is set to close.
“Making it a requirement that if there is going to be a situation where there is disruption that you’re obligated as a company to forewarn the parents and let them know months ahead so they can take measures to better prepare for those changes,” Coteau said.
Coteau said, if possible, the company should have worked with parents months ago to find new accommodations.
He said he doesn’t support an exemption from the requirement for outdoor space.
By chance, Choy already planned to move her son to a daycare closer to home in September, but she said for many of the more than one-hundred other families at the facility, it’s more difficult.
“Many parents I’ve heard from, they need to figure out long-term solutions,” Choy said. “What are they going to do once Monday’s over and from there on?”
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