It will take a few months for Aparajita Yadav, 4, to recover from the injuries she received after falling off a tenth-floor balcony from a day care centre in Kharghar on June 11. However, it may take her longer to get over her newfound fear of heights. "I will not go to a balcony again," said Aparajita, on Thursday, from Hyderabad where she underwent an eye surgery.
While Aparajita was lucky to survive the fall after a bush cushioned her landing, the accident has raised concerns about the safety of children who are sent to day care centres, an expanding unorganised sector. "I would like to ensure that this does not happen to any other child," said Suman Yadav, Aparajita's mother, who plans to write a letter to the chief minister seeking regulation of private crèches.
Recently, a child in Hyderabad choked to death while being fed by an attendant at a crèche. "When I heard of the accidental death in Hyderabad, I sent instructions to the staff at all my day care centres to supervise children when they are eating," said Swati Popat Vats, director, Podar Education Network.
Following the Kharghar incident, the state government announced that it would frame guidelines for private crèches and make registration mandatory. "We want to ensure that all crèches are run either under the authority of the civic body or the state," said Varsha Gaikwad, women and child development minister.
Child specialists said that parents need to demand safety and be willing to pay for it. "Parents can form an association to monitor crèches," said Dr Samir Dalwai, development paediatrician, Sion Hospital.
Rachana Nagarkar, a Goregaon based artist, leaves her daughter, Tosha, 2, at a neighbourhood crèche. On Tuesday, a minor accident left Tosha with a bleeding finger. "Though it was a small accident, I was worried. I have asked the crèche to be more careful," said Nagarkar.
Crèche owners, however, said that they do their best to ensure the children's safety and comfort. "I raise the children as I raised my own," said Roshni Kshirsagar, who runs a crèche in her one-bedroom house in Goregaon. "I take care of safety and hygiene, and even prepare wholesome meals for them."