Since the incident at Wee Care, and after speaking to the allergist, we all agreed that a home based daycare would be a more suitable environment for Maya because the number of children would be more managable than a bigger daycare. For the past few months we've been fortunate to have one of the best babysitters I've seen. Maya flourished in her care. She came to our house and was extremely cautious about bringing unsafe foods. We felt at ease with her and she truly understood how dangerous allergies can be. I provided all the meals and snacks; this was the only way to keep Maya safe. Sadly, this wonderful babysitter's services are no longer an option. We knew from the start that she would only be available for a few months and she'd given notice last week. She was incredibly nice to us and even helped us find the current daycare we are working with. But it didn't start out that way. It took a while before we found someone who was willing to accept Maya into their daycare.
Our first contact was with Future Stars Learning Centre and they accepted Maya initially but with some trepidation (perhaps that's a lesson in and of itself). Despite that, Maya did very well. She was safe and we did not even have to give her any antihistamine. I provided all her meals and snacks. I provided all her gear and medication. I only asked that the staff make sure other kids clean their hands after consuming food that Maya is allergic to. To my disappointment, I got a call from the director a few days later. She asked me NOT to bring my child in again. I was informed that they could not keep Maya safe because they will be taking care of an autistic child. They did not think that they could manage an autistic child as well as Maya while making sure that other kids washed their hands after food. The director stated that the autistic child required a lot of attention and she did not have the necessary staff to handle all that. It seemed to me like Maya was being kicked out because they thought it was easier to take care of an autistic child. I was furious. What makes one special needs kid favourable over another? Perhaps in this case it was funding. But it didn't matter, the reality was, they had no desire to make it work. It was evident that the issue was not understaffing. The next day I found an ad online for the spot that my daughter had occupied. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the place would have been totally unsafe for Maya, as that autistic child needed to have his milk bottle with him at ALL times, and so the director could not keep the place clean. He's over 2 but his bottle is what soothes him and he needs to have it. I understand that; he's autistic. However, Maya was in the daycare before this information came to light. I felt that as opposed to make it work, the director chose to simply eliminate the option that seemed like too much hassle. In retrospect, someone who thinks of a child as a burden or hassle is probably not someone you want dealing with allergies and anaphylaxis.
Since then I've contacted other licensed home based daycare facilities. Some were very apologetic and said that their families consume allergens everywhere in the house; they felt it would be unsafe for Maya. Some took the opportunity to educate me on being a good mother by suggesting that I should not be looking for daycare at all and that I should take care of my child myself, which begs the question why are these people in the daycare business to begin with. One woman even yelled "Not Interested" and hung up on me as soon as I mentioned that my daughter has severe food allergies. Still, others marveled at our ability to keep Maya safe with such severe contact allergies and wondered what we'll do when she goes to school. Amongst all that, we managed to find one home based daycare run by a very friendly woman. She agreed to take in Maya and expressed that it's no problem at all to work with us to keep her safe. She seemed a lot more accommodating than most. We quickly realized why. Her neice and nephew are allergic to peanuts, and she's had to administer the epipen to one of them before. Once again, the people who are sympathetic towards allergic individuals are ones that live with anaphylaxis themselves or their loved ones. We start that new daycare tomorrow; we hope it works out. I will be posting about our initial experience within the next week so stay tuned.