Calgary police said a day home operator has been charged with child abandonment after five children were left at the home unsupervised.
The incident happened on Oct. 29, 2020. Calgary police said at the time, 26-year-old Cherice Anderson had left the children at home at her day home, Over the Rainbow, in Coventry Hills for more than an hour unattended.
Police did not provide details on why she left the children alone.
Calgary police told Global News charges were laid on Nov. 13, 2020.
The parents of one of the children left, France and Katie Balante, said they’re happy to see charges – but with a looming court date – they want consequences for Anderson’s action.
“We hope there’s justice in this.
“Also, we want to make sure no parents have to go through this. It’d be great if she’s convicted in this,” France said.
“I was terrified, like anything could happen,” Katie said.
The Balante’s two-year-old daughter Nova had been attending Over the Rainbow day home for more than a year. Because of the continuous care, they said they paid about $1,700 in advance. That money was never returned, despite repeated requests. It’s added insult to injury, France said.
“It’s common sense, because from our perspective, she took her personal interests before child safety, which is atrocious to begin with.”
The family said they get emotional thinking about what happened. “It gets you angry because like she she put her child in danger and other things,” France said.
Neighbour Nate Pike said the charges laid send a strong message.
Pike was the neighbour next door when one of the children in the room, a five-year-old boy, ran next door for help, and to call 9-1-1.
“Parents need to know there is some degree of oversight that exists… It sends the right message,” Pike said.
“I’ve been a paramedic for 12 years and (the incident) shocked me,” he said.
In October, his doorbell camera video from his front door captured the exchange. The boy could be heard saying: “There isn’t anyone there,” referring to the home next door.
“What he told me when he first came over was that the person who ran his day home had an appointment to go to, and so she had tied the door shut in one of the rooms and left him and four or five other kids in that room,” Pike told Global News in October.
“And he said that he’s very small, so he managed to squeeze through the space in the door that he was able to create. And then he knew he had to find a grown-up.”
The Balante’s are urging parents to practice diligence — especially when it comes to their children, and hope nothing like this happens to another family.
“We’re new parents. She was the first day home we picked and that (dayhome) was what Nova had been in her whole life,” Katie said.
“It’s more of a caution to newer parents, it’s like — please do your due diligence,” France added.
Alberta Children’s Services said it now has the ability to issue a stop order for unlicensed day homes when there is a threat to children. In a statement, communications director Nancy Bishay said the safety and well-being of children is the ministry’s top priority.
“As of Feb. 1, 2021, Children’s Services has the ability to issue a stop order in an unlicensed day home where there is imminent harm to children. Concerns about child safety can be reported to us by any member of the public by phone at 1-844-644-5165,” she said.
For parents who are looking into child care options, Bishay said there is a child care guide online — pertaining to both licensed and unlicensed child care — adding any Children’s Services office would also be able to provide help for parents.
Global News reached out to Anderson multiple times and left several messages but she did not return our calls nor provide a comment.
She is due in court next Month.