Hundreds of parents protest after daycare owner arrested for abuse

Mass demonstrations follow the arrest and indictment of Carmel Mauda, who is facing 18 counts of abusing 11 toddlers at her daycare in Rosh Ha'ayin.

Parents gather to protest Carmel Mauda, the daycare owner's abuse of children in her care. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Parents gather to protest Carmel Mauda, the daycare owner's abuse of children in her care.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Hundreds of parents took part in mass demonstrations across the country on Sunday night over the lack of regulation at daycares for infants between the ages of zero and three.
This comes following cases of child abuse by Rosh Ha’ayin pre-school teacher Carmel Mauda, who allegedly forced children to eat their own vomit, tied them up against chairs, and hit them, among other allegations.
The 25-year-old’s home, which housed the daycare center, was reportedly set alight on Sunday morning. One person was arrested in connection with the alleged arson.
Mauda was arrested last month and was charged on Sunday morning with child abuse. She is facing no less than 18 counts of abusing 11 toddlers who attended her daycare.
Protests on Sunday night took place in several main centers, including opposite the government complex in Tel Aviv, as well as in Haifa, Beersheba and opposite the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Anat Dayagi, founder of Parents for Infant Care – the group organizing the demonstrations – explained that there are no laws or regulations in Israel for kindergartens or day care centers for ages zero to three years old.
“So anyone can open up a kindergarten or a day care center and do as they like,” she told The Jerusalem Post. “They can have 30 kids and only one caregiver, there’s no sanitation regulations or safety regulations like stops on the doors or other such things, so this is why the protests are happening in Israel.”
She said Mauda’s case was very extreme, but that this is happening on a day-to-day basis. “We keep seeing it again and again,” she added.
Dayagi lost her eight-monthold son in May 2016 because of negligence at a daycare center. She said she believes “the caregiver put him to sleep on a large pillow and ignored his cries when he rolled onto his stomach and couldn’t flip back.”
She also said that she was lied to by the caregiver after questioning her thoroughly, and was horrified when she found out that “there is no law in Israel that upholds her – or any other caregiver – to a minimum standard” for those running kindergartens for infants.
“We are protesting because we, as parents, are helpless,” she said. “I use my case as an example because as a parent, I did everything that I could so this wouldn’t happen to me, I asked all the right questions… I did everything right. I was talking to the daycare and watching for two weeks, so I did everything I could.”
She said the parents are calling on the government to set up standard supervision laws. “Standard supervision laws are very important stepping stones to regulations, because Israel is lacking the standard that needs to be set in secondary legislation,” she explained.
According to Parents for Infant Care, only 25% of the frameworks in which infants and toddlers are cared for are subject to supervision, and mandatory standards and background checks are not done on teachers and assistants.
Dayagi emphasized that this has to change, adding that all Western countries have laws and regulations in place.
She emphasized that “90% of brain development occurs during early childhood, and it’s also when most core personality traits and social skills are set… these children are growing up traumatized.”

SPEAKING TO several parents in the daycare and kindergarten system, Bazy Rubin said that her first experience with the system was “horrible.”
“When my eldest was five months old, there was no room in the regular ganim because it was the middle of the year,” she explained, “so I sent him to a private mishpachton down the block from me. It was absolutely horrible. I was a young parent with no experience, and my son came home with such a hoarse throat every day. At first I thought he was ill, but then I realized he was actually crying so much that he was losing his voice.”
She said she then asked the caregiver “what was going on, and she said that ‘sometimes he just cries a lot, it’s really too bad.’” After speaking with friends and family, she realized that “too bad” meant he was being neglected and she removed him straight away.
“When I see what is going on, I shudder at the thought,” adding that she and her husband check and double-check a new gan before sending their child there.
Another parent who asked not to be named said that she sent her toddler just last week to a holiday kindergarten, for which parents pay extra, then regular kindergarten during the year.
The mother said she’d only found out after she sent him that there were only two caregivers looking after 34 children, which is illegal.
“He wasn’t being watched properly, and he fell and hurt himself on his neck and also had a nose bleed,” she said. “He fell because one of the caregivers didn’t want to look after the children so she wasn’t watching them.”
“What’s worse is that the playground where the holiday kindergarten took place was full of litter and dangerous objects and was totally in the sun.” She said they had complained to the City Council, which finally did something after the parents complained together.
A third parent, who is also a child-carer for this age, said that the situation really scares her, adding that she has two small children in the system as well.
When she lived overseas, it was mandatory for anyone dealing with children to have a criminal background check and to get a police clearance certificate.
“I’m all for such a law being passed, and they must check not only their criminal records here, but if they’re immigrants, check their records in their home country too,” she said. “Maybe some of these child-carers also need mental health checks” by the government as well, before they can be deemed fit to open a daycare.
The mother and child-minder also chastised the government for taking so long to implement laws, especially important ones like regulations for child-carers of toddlers.
“With elections coming up, it’s going to take even longer,” she said. “I don’t even know what to say to help pressure the government into doing something.”
The issue was also brought to the attention of the United Nations in April, in a report by the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Under the report’s Right to Education inquiry, it asked for answers regarding the “disturbing situation” in Israel’s private kindergartens, “where conditions and services are reportedly substandard, and on the legislative or policy framework put in place to regulate them.”
In addition, the annual expenditure per pupil at the pre-primary level in Israel is ranked at 29 out of 31 countries, meaning that it is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries, according to data from 2015, the most recent available on the matter.