• L.Erin

'Verbal Warnings' Suspended

Updated: Jan 21

I was told this week that Child Care Licensing Officers (LOs) are currently not allowed to issue verbal warnings when they identify areas that need correcting in Child Care facilities. This has eliminated the first step in a process; Now, LOs are being told they have to issue a more severe order to remedy right off the bat, no verbal warning.

First, the apparent reason for this:

Somebody in Edmonton area complained that 'verbal warnings' can not be appealed, whereas an 'order to remedy' can be taken to an appeal board.

Second, the reason this is wrong:

Verbal warnings are intended as a lesser consequence of not meeting the basic requirements as set by legislation.

An order to remedy is issued as a more serious consequence of not meeting issues previously identified.

Third, the reason this happens:

LO's are not utilizing the tools at their disposal appropriately. This is a direct result of incomplete and inappropriate training as carried out by their supervisors, the managers, the associate director (Marg Cutler), and the Executive Director (Russ Pickford).

Fourth, the reason this decision is wrong:

Making an entire policy based on the incorrect notions of a complainant is both immoral and cowardly. Mr. Pickford should not be giving in to ridiculous claims, but fixing the problem and educating those who are ignorant. Is that not his job?

I am not a friend to most LOs who have come through my building because they seem to be trained to understand they are superior to those in the facilities. Actually, the only people superior to an owner/operator/director, are the parents: those whose children rely on these services.

The solution I have come up with in the short time I have known about this awkward situation is to train LOs how to effectively utilize their tools: Issue verbal warnings where there have not been previous incidents, and then use the order to remedy where no progress is being made; and be consultants and regulatory officers as opposed to dictators with checklists who assume they know what is best for all children, everywhere. This is, ultimately, a job for the director and associate director; If they are incapable, they should be replaced.

UPDATE: 2020, January 21

December 17th I was informed that the verbal warnings have been reinstated as verbal warnings.

This may seem redundant, however, previously, verbal warnings were documented and shown on the government child care lookup tool for public viewing... so not really a verbal warning, but more of a general warning. Now, verbal warnings are not documented on the public site, but only in the licensing officers notes.

This is good, however, I wonder how the LOs will keep track of these verbal warnings as many of them can barely keep up with their duties as it is. They rotate LOs through facilities so hopefully they will be able to maintain consistency in inspections; a task which has proven difficult in the past.

No system is perfect, and I acknowledge an element of human error which must be taken in to account. I do believe that less is more and with the system in the state it is, there are concerns regarding the efficiency and consistency across Alberta.


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