HALIFAX – Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey is taking steps to ensure the protection of children at regulated child-care centres across the province.
Casey will introduce regulations that will give the minister the authority to ensure no child-care staff would be allowed to work with children at any time if they did not have their child abuse registry and criminal background checks in place.
This is in response to information the minister recently received from staff indicating over the past two years there were several regulated child-care centres in Nova Scotia that were in violation of their operating license. The centres had allowed staff to be hired, or continue to work with children, without the proper checks in place.
"It is my job to ensure the protection of children at child-care centres and this practice is unacceptable," said Casey. "The day-care regulations I will be introducing shortly will ensure the protection of children in regulated child-care centres throughout the province."
New regulations being introduced to the Day Care Act will ensure no staff members working at regulated child-care centres can work with children unless they have up-to-date child abuse registry and criminal background checks in place.
Until the new regulations are introduced and approved, Casey has asked that all child-care operators ensure no child is left unsupervised with any staff member if the child abuse and criminal background checks are not in place. The minister issued a memo with this information to all child-care operators to remind them of their obligations under the act.
She has also asked staff to increase inspections at child-care centres that are in noncompliance over the next few weeks to ensure children are protected.
"This is a very serious matter and as soon as it was brought to my attention, I asked staff to take steps to address it," said Casey. "I expect child-care operators to comply immediately to ensure children are protected at all times."
Currently, when a child-care operator has a licence violation on their file, including criminal back ground and child abuse registry checks violations, they are given 30 days to comply.
Based on information from recent site inspections, as of Thursday, there are five child-care centres with nine staff in violation in relation to criminal records checks or child abuse registry checks. Department staff will be following up with each centre to ensure immediate compliance.
Casey expects to have the new regulations in place in early fall.
A copy of the memo sent to child-care operators can be found at http://www.ednet.ns.ca .