Young children exposed to needles, drug paraphernalia at Vernon daycare

According to facility staff, they hope this becomes a learning opportunity to educate the children on the steps taken if they reencounter narcotics.

Young children exposed to needles, drug paraphernalia at Vernon daycare
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Vernon officials are furious after young children at Maven Lane Childcare became exposed to a stash of “narcotic paraphernalia” on the premises.

In a letter to parents Monday, executive director Hollie Henderson expressed her “deep frustration and regret” about the situation after finding narcotics hidden in one of the gated and locked playgrounds behind the building.

“Every morning, before opening, all outdoor play areas and facility grounds are thoroughly inspected by our facility,” said Henderson. “We check every playground, parking lot and door well.”

Global News contacted Maven Lane for an on-camera interview, but the staff declined, stating they clean up their playgrounds almost daily. The incident marked the first time a child under their care hurt themselves.

Neighbour Danielle St-Onge said uncovering needles and other paraphernalia happens daily, but complaints to city officials are ultimately returned to sender.

“It's every night I see drug people coming through here,” said St-Onge. “They are dealing on the street here, and we chase them out, and it's ongoing.”

Dr. Jonathan Malo, medical health officer for North Okanagan-Shuswap, understands the anxiety from both parents and the community when children get poked with a needle, saying: “We want to reassure everyone that the risk of getting sick or any disease from needle pokes in the community is very low.”

Malo adds, “It is important for children to know what to do if they find a needle.” He encourages parents and caregivers to educate their children and, if finding a needle, to alert an adult.

According to facility staff, they hope this becomes a learning opportunity to educate the children on the steps taken if they reencounter narcotics.

BC's Interior Health commended the organization for keeping students safe and shared essential steps to take in case anyone sees drug paraphernalia.

“So the first thing is prevention, so before anything like this happens, we need to ensure that we are up to date on our vaccinations, specifically in this case. It's really important to have protection from Hep B and tetanus,” said Interior Health Medical Officer Dr. Carol Fenton.

“If a needlestick occurs, it's really important to wash with soap and water and then contact your doctor or visit your local emergency department for follow-up care.”

The incident is under police investigation, with parents unclear about what their children were exposed to as they await further testing.

Stephen Forde is one of many parents whose children attend the childcare facility. “We need more help from the city because it shouldn't be all on the daycare to go this far with security," said Forde. "We need more community support services.”

Maven Lane has contacted the city of Vernon officials, RCMP and the local shelter about expanding security measures in the area, with the facility bolstering its security to prevent further exposure.

A six-foot fence already surrounds the facility's perimeter. Following the incident, staff installed security cameras and outdoor lighting and hired overnight security to patrol the area.

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