Police charge day care provider

Andrew Seymour, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2007

An Ottawa day care provider arrested Monday has been charged with four counts of forcible confinement and one count of obstructing police.

Ottawa police laid the charges against 49-year-old Hellen Ranger Tuesday.
On Monday, police and Children's Aid Society investigators entered Mrs. Ranger's private day care at her home on Turner Crescent in the Fallingbrook area to check on the well-being of the children she was caring for.

Officers found 11 children inside the home. Ontario law requires private day care providers caring for more than five children, excluding their own, to have a license.

Ontario's Ministry of Child and Family Services has no record of a licensed day care operating at that address.
Ottawa police Const. Alain Boucher could not comment on the evidence against Mrs. Ranger. However, he said the charge is laid when "you keep somebody in a locked place without them being able to leave."

Const. Boucher added the obstructing police charge is typically laid when someone attempts to "hinder" a police investigation.

Mrs. Ranger, who remains in police custody, is expected to appear in Ottawa court Tuesday for a show-cause hearing.
Police officers continued to guard Mrs. Ranger's home Tuesday morning. Investigators are currently awaiting a search warrant to re-enter the home and begin gathering potential evidence.

Police were releasing few details Monday, but the Citizen has learned the investigation was launched after a parent called police about two weeks ago to report her young daughter had suffered a black eye, bruises and cuts while attending day care.

"We went to investigate allegations of neglect and made an arrest," said Ottawa police Const. Isabelle Lemieux yesterday, adding police were awaiting a search warrant last night to aid their investigation.

Police entered the house accompanied by Ottawa paramedics, who assessed the children. None of the children appeared to be suffering any injuries.

Throughout the day, parents rushed into the house before emerging with their children, many of whom appeared to be under five years old. One mother sobbed as she buckled her daughter into a car seat after meeting with police and picking the child up from the home.

Several parents leaving the home said they knew no details about why the day care was under investigation.

One mother said she believed police were investigating because there were "too many kids" being cared for at the home.

"I knew there were four or five. I never knew there were that many," said the mother, who declined to give her name.

The woman said she counted as many as 10 children, including her two-year-old son, in the house yesterday.

She said she received a call from the Children's Aid Society asking that she come and pick up her son immediately.

The woman said she "asked many questions," but got few answers.

"They just told me to find another day care," she said.

She said her son, who had been attending day care at the home for the past year, had never suffered any injuries that she knew of while attending day care.

Neighbours expressed shock that police were investigating Mrs. Ranger, who has lived at the house with her husband for the past 20 years, adding Mrs. Ranger had been operating the day care out of her home for as long as 10 years. The couple has two adult children, including a son who still lives in the home, neighbours said.

"It's shocking and surprising," said neighbour Tania Nolet. "We always see her with the kids outside. The parents are always talking to her. It was never in and out," she said.

"We've never seen any (children) mistreated," added Lorraine Crawford, who described the couple as "excellent" neighbours.

Mrs. Crawford said she never knew exactly how many children were being cared for at the day care, but knew there were "lots." "You'd probably see seven to 10 cars, but that was over a couple of hours," said Mrs. Crawford. "I remember years ago asking about how many kids she had and she said, 'lots.' " The Children's Aid Society said it could not confirm or deny it was investigating the matter due to privacy provisions of the Child and Family Services Act.

If an unlicensed day care offers services to more than five unrelated children, regardless of how many caregivers are present, the operators can be convicted of an offence that carries a maximum fine of $2,000 for each day the facility was run unlawfully.

"If we're made aware of an unlicensed facility, we'll go to that home for an unannounced visit," said Anne Machowski, a Ministry of Children and Youth Services spokeswoman.

"If they have more children than they should, we will ask them to have some of the kids leave for safety reasons."


The Ottawa Citizen 2007