The parents of a toddler who died at an East Vancouver home daycare have released a heartbreaking statement speaking to a lack of access to safe child care.
It comes just over a week after one-and-a-half-year-old Macallan Saini allegedly choked to death on a cord while at a home on Kitchener street.
Now, Chris Saini and Shelley Sheppard say their son’s death could have been prevented.
“We don’t want our sweet boy’s death to have been in vain,” they write, calling for “massive” reform to the province’s child care system.
The couple writes they did all the checks a diligent parent could have, and were given every assurance their son would be well taken care of – but it wasn’t enough.
“Like most parents in B.C., we found the choices impossibly limited when it came to daycare spaces. Parents are rushed to take the one spot available and pressured into making decisions that may not work for their family” they write.
“He was the love of our lives. Our heart. Our joy. Our everything. All we have left now are memories and ashes,” the couple conclude, saying they plan to fight in Mac’s memory for affordable and safe daycare.
Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux released a statement late Thursday saying her heart goes out to the family, and saying an investigation is underway by “proper authorities.”
She adds parents have multiple options for childcare, including licensed, registered license-not-required, and unlicensed childcare but notes the latter options aren’t regulated or funded through the province.
The province says 113,000 licensed spaces are funded each year to the tune of $119-million.
The Vancouver Police say they and the Coroners Service continue to investigate the death, which has not been deemed suspicious.
Full statement from Macallan Wayne Saini’s parents
We are Mac’s Mommy and Daddy.
Let us begin by saying we are profoundly appreciative of the support we have received from our families, friends, community and even people we don’t know. We are humbled by this outpouring of love during our darkest days.
Today we said goodbye to Macallan Wayne Saini, our perfect baby boy. On January 18, 2017, one day before Mac was to turn 16 months, he was suddenly taken from us.
Mac filled a room with his joy and curiosity. His eyes sparkled and smiled at everyone and everything. Mac was such a happy boy that loved to laugh and play “jokes” on Momma and Dada. He had just learned how to climb on the couch and how to hide in a corner so that he could toddle out and pretend to scare people. He mastered signing “more” and would use it when he was being pushed on the swing so that we wouldn’t stop. Mac was very proud of himself whenever he learned a new skill and so were we. These memories of him and his life, these glimpses into what kind of a man he would have become, are all we have now. We will never teach Mac to ride a bike, walk him to school, or see him fall in love. All the things parents dream of.
We know parents are scared and want to know how this could happen. Please know this: we did all the checks a diligent parent should do. We had lists of things to look for and questions to ask. We signed papers, we were given assurances and promises that made us feel like Mac would be safe and well cared for. In the end, this was all meaningless. Mac’s death was entirely preventable and we want to make sure this never happens again. We cannot comment further on the details of his death.
We don’t want our sweet boy’s death to have been in vain. The day care system in British Columbia needs massive reform. Like most parents in BC, we found the choices impossibly limited when it came to day care spaces. Parents are rushed to take the one spot available and pressured into making decisions that may not work for their family. In Mac’s memory we will fight for accountable, safe and affordable daycare. The most precious and vulnerable members of our population aren’t able to tell us what is happening behind closed doors. We in BC need to know that when our children are away from us that they will not be harmed and that they are treated with care and respect. No other mother should ever have to see the love of her life lying dead on the floor. No father should have to load his son’s casket into a crematorium furnace.
We are so overwhelmed by Mac’s death. Losing him has completely shattered us. He was the love of our lives. Our heart. Our joy. Our everything.
All we have left now are memories and ashes.
Shelley Sheppard and Chris Saini