Fatality inquiry into dayhome death calls for improvements within Alberta’s child care system
The fatality inquiry into the 2012 death of a 22-month-old has determined that more can be done within Alberta’s licensed and unlicensed childcare facilities to ensure children and staff are safe, and that guardians have access to all pertinent information before selecting a caregiver.
Mackenzy Jane Woolfsmith suffered critical injuries at a home in McKenzie Towne in May 2012 while in the care of Caitlin Jarosz, a dayhome operator. The young girl died the following day in hospital.
During the police investigation into the young girl’s death, three additional complaints involving Jurosz surfaced. The allegations, which have not been proven in court, included:
- A 13-month-old child who suffered a fractured wrist and bleeding lips in 2010 at a licensed dayhome where Jarosz worked
- A child who suffered bruising under their tongue and a broken arm in 2011. The injuries were said to be the result of playing with other children
- A 13-month-old child who suffered injuries on three consecutive days including a goose egg to the head, a forehead bruise and torso scrapes
A fatality inquiry into Woolfsmith’s death began in February 2018. On January 14, 2019, the presiding judge released his findings.
According to Justice Joshua B. Hawkes’ report to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General – Public Fatality Inquiry, the prior incidents involving Jarosz were ‘accidents that were not the result of any action on the part of Ms. Jarosz, but rather, incidents that would have raised enough concern about accidental injury that (the parents) would have looked elsewhere for child care’.
Hawkes recommendations to improve child care in Alberta and to mitigate the risk of injury or death, include:
- A comprehensive review of the legislative framework governing the provision of child care in Alberta to reduce risk to infants and children in all forms of child care
- To emphasize risk reduction and increasing protection in all care facilities instead of placing focus solely on regulating the size of unlicensed daycares
- Improving how serious incidents, and the providers involved, are tracked and documented
- The adoption of a proactive complaint review process with mechanisms to allow the tracking of ongoing investigations
- Ensuring the rights of parents or guardians to information regarding critical incidents takes precedence over the privacy of child care providers/workers when it comes to the information within critical incident reports
- The power to immediately close daycares that are determined to be unsafe and to restrict or prohibit specific individuals from providing child care services
- Providing support, including tools for self-assessment, to childcare workers who face demanding and stressful work
- Mandatory support and assistance for everyone involved in a critical incident
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