Red bite marks next to Hudson McPherson’s right eye following a biting incident at Little Paws Daycare Centre. According to Hudson’s mother, Carol Gillard, he has been bitten 12 times by the same child while attending the centre. (Facebook photo)

Mom concerned after multiple biting incidents reported at Okanagan daycare

Parents upset that biting was allowed to continue for so long

Accounts of more than 50 biting incidents over the course of a year at a Penticton area daycare has parents asking questions why it took so long to address.

A recent post on the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) Facebook by Jacki McPherson reveals that her grandson, Hudson McPherson, 2, has been repeatedly bitten while attending the Little Paws Children’s Centre run by the PIB. Her post featured pictures of the young boy with red bite marks around his eyes, arms, hands and ears.

Bite marks on Hudson McPherson’s left ear after a biting incident at the PIB daycare. Photo from Facebook

Hudson’s mother, Carol Gillard, said he has been attending the centre for about a year and was bitten by another child within the first month. Initially, she and her husband were not concerned, but as the biting continued they felt the problem was not being properly addressed.

“After the second and the third time, it progressively got worse. In total, Hudson has been bitten around 12 times, seven times breaking the skin and leaving marks on his body,” said Gillard. “After the fourth or fifth time we had talked to the daycare, and they assured us that there was going to be smaller groups and that they were going to keep Hudson and (the biter) separated.”

Particularly red bite marks on Hudson McPherson’s right arm after a biting incident at the Little Paws Daycare Centre. Photo from Facebook

Things came to a head when the centre called a meeting in September 2018 to speak to the parents and address the biting concerns. It was there that Gillard and the biting child’s guardian, who will not be identified to protect the identity of the child, learned just how serious the situation had become.

“We were taken aback when we were called as a family to the daycare centre to talk about some biting behaviour. At that time, we were only aware of two incidents,” said the child’s guardian. “After we sat down at this meeting, we were informed that there had been, in fact, 52 biting incidents. We had only been notified of two of them from the period January 2018 to September 2018.”

The guardian said this child never exhibits biting behaviour at home so they were shocked to learn it was such a problem while at daycare. According to the guardian, the child is under the supervision of the Ministry of Child & Family Development (MCFD) “which means any scratch, any injuries or any concerns we by law have to report to MCFD.”

“During the Sept. 5, 2018, meeting with the daycare, we asked for the written documentation/incident reports of the 52 incidents and the daycare could not provide them to us. We were very frustrated because we felt that late notice of an obviously concerning behaviours was completely unacceptable,” said the guardian.

Gillard said following the meeting the daycare enacted a policy that if a child bites three times in one week, they are dismissed from the centre. The week of Feb. 11, the child had bit three times, two of the incidents involving Hudson. Another incident occurred Feb. 15.

On Sunday, Feb. 17, the guardian received an email from the daycare stating the child would no longer attend as of Feb. 19, until a “variance was received for the child to be moved upstairs to the three- to five-year-old room” which would take up to four weeks.

The guardian took the family’s concerns to the PIB Chief and council to address the issue. Due to a conflict of interest with the case, Chief Chad Eneas excused himself from the proceedings before the family spoke with the council.

“Council informed us that they could make recommendations to the CAO and the HR (human resources) director – and that was all they could do.”

The daycare later was in contact with the HR director and the child’s MCFD social worker to allow the child to return to the centre. The child now receives one-on-one support at the daycare centre to curb the behaviour, but both the guardian and Gillard are upset it continued for so long.

“It took one or two hours of daycare staff time to make the call to MCFD to have adequate supports put in place for our child which would ensure that none of the children were bitten – my question is why was this call not made before Feb. 20, 2019?”

The PIB and daycare did not return multiple requests for an interview by publication deadline Tuesday. The MCFD did not wish to comment in order to protect the identity of the child under their care.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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