Review of Winnipeg preschool launched by province after mom found son, 3, alone in the cold


The province has launched a review of a Winnipeg preschool after a mom found her three-year-son outside and alone in the cold.

Teeghan Butler, the boy’s mom, said it happened last Friday when she was picking him up for the day.

“I was terrified,” Butler said. “It was really scary to see my son just standing there completely alone.”

Butler said she had contacted the St. James Early Learning Program to say she was running late.

When she got to the church the program runs out of about 20 minutes later than normal, Butler saw her son standing outside the entrance hugging a tree under no supervision.

“I immediately ran to him and grabbed him and made sure he was safe and okay and put him in the car to warm him up because he was freezing,” Butler said.

The preschool program is licensed by the province. A provincial spokesperson said it was made aware of the incident Monday and has launched a review due to “the potential substantial concerns regarding safety practices that resulted in the situation.”

The province said it immediately suspended field trips and outings away from the facility until further notice.

Further action may be taken based on the findings of the review.

CTV News Winnipeg has made multiple attempts to contact the preschool but so far it hasn’t commented on specifics of what happened.

Butler said she was initially told a teacher didn’t get her message and then was told the boy left a group as they walked outside and that a teacher assumed the boy had found his mom in the parking lot.

Jodie Kehl, executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association, said there are licensed regulations that licensed child-care facilities must follow. One of those regulations requires children be supervised at all times.

“A three-year-old child is not capable, a young preschool child is not capable of being unsupervised in a program and so the parent has done the right thing,” Kehl said.

Butler first brought the issue to the provider’s attention and then filed a complaint with the province. She said her son was outside alone for between 10 and 20 minutes.

It’s a situation that left not only her but also the boy’s grandmother concerned.

“Obviously, everyone wants their children to feel safe and this is a situation that wasn’t,” the boy’s grandma Stacey Schellenberg said.

Butler pulled her son out of the program. She said the preschool has apologized and is promising to make changes but she thinks more needs to be done to ensure the safety of children.

“I don’t want this to be something that’s just swept under the rug and kind of just forgotten about,” Butler said. “I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

She said her son had been enjoying his time in the program over the past two years but he’s been afraid to leave her side ever since he was found outside alone. 

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