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2 London, Ont. child care centres ordered closed by province

Kidorable on Trafalgar Street in 2019. Google Maps

Two London, Ont. child care centres have been ordered closed by the province citing an “imminent threat to the health, safety or welfare of children,” forcing parents to find alternative arrangements for their children.

Details remain limited as to why the Ministry of Education, which licenses such facilities, ordered the closures of London’s two Kidorable locations on Thursday, one at 35 Jim Ashton St., the other at 1697 Trafalgar St.

Both locations were hit with identical protection orders by the ministry, according to the province’s public child care inspection registry.

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The registry shows that licensee Altaqwa Academy Foundation was issued protection orders on Thursday to “immediately stop providing child care” at both facilities “until the imminent threat to the health, safety or welfare of children is removed.”

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No further information is provided, including what the “imminent threat” was. Both facilities have had their licences suspended as a result, according to the registry.

The notice posted at both Kidorable locations in London.

Those visiting either location Friday were greeted with a printed notice taped to the door advising of the ministry’s protection order.

A letter sent home to parents cited recent inspections by the province, and “a few operational procedures that need to be met,” as the reason for the closures.

“Our two campuses have been undergoing their periodic monitoring inspections by the Ministry of Education over the past couple of months and most recently this week,” the letter reads.

“However, due to a few operational procedures that need to be met, as per guidelines set out from the Ministry, we are mandated to address these requirements prior to re-opening the centre, and we are dedicating all the necessary resources to make those adjustments as soon as possible.”

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No information was provided about what the operational procedures involve. A message to Kidorable for comment was not returned by publishing time.

“The health and safety of our children are of paramount importance. That is why Protection Orders — the immediate suspension of operations — are issued to ensure the safety and protection of the children in care,” said Grace Lee, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Education in an emailed statement.

A City of London spokesperson said in a statement that the municipality was helping parents and guardians impacted by the sudden closures.

“The city is supporting families by providing them with information about alternatives, recognizing this is difficult and unexpected news for them,” the statement read.

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According to the province’s child care centre registry, Kidorable’s Jim Ashton location was first licensed in 2014 and is allowed 154 children, while the Trafalgar Street location was licensed in 2019 and is allowed 134.

The registry lists past inspections for all Ontario child care facilities, and shows that both facilities have seen compliance issues regarding provincial regulations in the past.

According to the registry, the Trafalgar Street centre failed to meet a total of 39 provincial licensing requirements across six separate inspections between October 2019 and January of this year. All issues found were later resolved, the inspection listings show.

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The most recent inspection listed on the registry, dated Jan. 11 of this year, found the Trafalgar Street facility not compliant with 17 requirements, including two considered critical risk, and nine high risk. According to inspectors, the critical and high risk violations included:

  • That every child be supervised by an adult at all times (critical),
  • That individualized plans for a child with medical needs be implemented at each child care premises (critical),
  • That a daily attendance record be kept showing the arrival and departure times and absences of each child (high),
  • That each child under one year be fed per the parent’s written instructions (high),
  • That a playground safety policy be implemented (high),
  • That a fixed play structure or surfacing in the outdoor play space meet required standards (high),
  • Ensuring a drug or medication be administered to a child “only with written parental authorization including a schedule that sets out the times and amounts to be administered,” (high).

During an earlier inspection of the Trafalgar facility, dated June 14, 2021, ministry inspectors found that the licensee had “permitted the use of harsh or degrading measures or threats or use of derogatory language directed at or used in the presence of a child that would humiliate, shame or frighten the child or undermine his or her self-respect, dignity or self-worth.”

A separate inspection of the Trafalgar Street Kidorable by the Middlesex-London Health Unit in late April found that the facility had failed to ensure electrical outlets and cords were inaccessible to children. The alleged safety violation was corrected that day, according to the inspection listing.

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At the Jim Ashton Street location, the provincial registry shows the facility was found to have violated a total of seven licensing requirements during two ministry inspections — one on April 29, 2021 and one on Oct. 7, 2021.

The facility was found in violation of three critical risk licensing requirements and two high risk requirements during the April inspection. According to inspectors, the three critical requirements not met were:

  • That the licensee make all drugs and medications inaccessible to children at all times,
  • That all drugs and medications be kept in a locked container, and
  • That spaces where medical supplies, cleaning materials, other poisonous or hazardous substances, and electrical equipment are stored, and the items within them, be inaccessible to children.

During the October inspection, one moderate risk requirement and one low risk requirement were not met, the registry says.

All seven issues were later resolved.

A separate inspection by the health unit in July of 2020 found the Jim Ashton facility had not ensured that electrical outlets and cords were inaccessible to children.

The facility was inspected again by the health unit on Nov. 25, 2020 and on April 22 of this year. Both inspections found no violations.

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Both facilities have conditions on their current licenses relating to playground equipment, according to the registry.

“The licensee shall ensure that fixed playground equipment is not used by children until it is confirmed that the structures meet CSA standards and that all health and safety concerns have been eliminated,” the listing for the Jim Ashton location states.

“Upon completion of repairs and renovations to the playground, the licensee shall submit a third party certified playground inspector’s written confirmation that all health and safety concerns have been addressed and that the playground is in compliance with CSA standards.”

For the Trafalgar Street Kidorable location, the licence conditions state that the licensee “shall implement the ‘outdoor play management plan’ submitted to the ministry on March 3, 2022.”

“This plan includes ensuring fixed equipment (specifically the hill slide, wooden timbers on the hill slide, and wooden platform with slide and surrounding area) is not used by children until it is confirmed that the structures meet CSA standards and that all health and safety concerns have been eliminated,” the conditions read.

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“Upon completion of repairs and renovations to the playground, the licensee shall submit a third party certified playground inspector’s written confirmation that all health and safety concerns have been addressed and that the playground is in compliance with CSA standards.”

It’s unclear when the conditions were added and whether they have been since been met.

matthew@980cfpl.ca

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