Okanagan families demand answers after 70 biting incidents at PIB daycare

Two Okanagan families are demanding answers after a two-year-old child was involved in upwards of 70 biting incidents at a daycare before corrective action was taken.

Carol Gillard says her son Hudson McPherson, 2, has been bitten at least 12 times over the past year by another toddler at Little Paws Children’s Centre operated by the Penticton Indian Band.

Hudson McPherson’s bite marks.

“He’s been bit on his face, underneath his eye, that broke skin, he was bit on his cheek, that left a teeth imprint, he’s been bit on his hand twice, one has broken skin, one has a full teeth imprint,” she said in an interview with Global News.

She said she feared for the safety of her child at the daycare, but given the shortage of available childcare spaces elsewhere, she was left with no other option but to keep him enrolled.

“It’s been super emotional, really just dropping Hudson off at daycare is hard. He doesn’t want to stay all of the time,” she said.

“It just gives me anxiety. I just wait for a text message all of the time saying, ‘Hudson’s been bit at daycare again’ or something.”

Global News got in touch with the legal guardian of the biting child, who is under the supervision of the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD). The guardian’s name is being withheld to protect the identity of the toddler.

Carol Gillard with her two-year-old son Hudson McPherson.

The guardian said the family was not made aware of how serious and prolific the biting incidents were until a meeting with the daycare in September.

She said she had only received two incident reports of biting, when in reality, the daycare claimed there had been 52 biting incidents between January 2018 to September 2018.

“I got quite frustrated in that meeting. I was like, how does January to September go by and there are 52 bites and you have only told us of two times, how does that happen?” the guardian said in a phone interview.

She said following the September meeting, the daycare agreed to increase supervision, but the biting persisted. Earlier this month, the guardian was informed her child was being terminated from the daycare.

“I was very angry. My niece cannot be displaced in her own community that is not right, just because somebody did not do their job for a second time, this is totally unacceptable,” she said.

The guardian made her case before the band council. After a review by the band’s CAO and HR director, the child in question was allowed to return to the daycare. The toddler now has a full-time support worker provided by the MCFD to ensure she is monitored around the clock.

The guardian said it is a solution that could have been implemented much earlier.

“Solutions were at the fingertips of the daycare had they actually taken the time and done their due diligence, no child should have been bitten,” the guardian said.

In a confidential letter from the MCFD social worker to the child’s family dated Sept. 7, 2018, and obtained by Global News, the MCFD said the daycare admitted fault.

“I have been in contact with [the daycare manager] from Little Paws regarding the reported 52 incidents of biting from [child] since January 2018. She confirmed that on two occasions, staff had notified parents but not on the others. She admitted that the daycare had not handled the situation adequately,” the letter stated.

“She agreed to send me the plans they have developed in trying to assist with the biting and in retrospect, agrees that a care plan should have been utilized.”

The biting child’s family is demanding an apology from the daycare for how it handled the situation.

“I strongly feel we as her caregivers could have intervened and helped with her biting behaviour at the daycare because it’s no secret that the most influential people in a child’s life is their parent,” she said.

“This isn’t the end of it. I don’t ever want community families to go through what we have been put through and I’m not going to stop until somebody takes accountability for what this did to us,” the guardian said.

“I’m not going to stop until somebody acknowledges that they did not do their job and apologizes to us.”

Gillard agrees the daycare dropped the ball.

“I’m mad that my son has been bit but I’m also super sad for the child because their family wasn’t being informed therefore they couldn’t help her and somebody in management wasn’t doing their job to help these children and keep them safe,” she said.

Global Okanagan has reached out to the Little Paws Children’s Centre and the Penticton Indian Band’s chief administrative officer for comment.

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