How baby Ava's parents helped to make SA creches safer
Judge holds the childcare facility and local government accountable for infant’s tragic death.

It's been several years since the tragic of death of baby Ava Barley.

In 2010, the 5-month-old infant was found dead on the bedroom floor of an unregistered Early Childhood Development (ECD) facility (crèche) — Aunty Dawn’s Daycare Centre — owned and operated by Catherine Moore. 

The infant had accidentally suffocated. 

Apart from an acknowledged 2008 application to the Western Cape's Department of Social Development, Moore was neither qualified nor trained, and essentially was running an illegal crèche.  

This past Friday, 30 June, a new precedent was set when Judge Daniel Dlodlo ruled in favour of parents Craig and Riette Barley against Moore and the provincial government. 

Commenting on the judgement, DSC Attorneys' senior associate, Chris Smit, who legally represented the Barley family, stated:

"We are very satisfied with the ruling. This is a very favourable outcome and a landmark case because it will set a precedent for holding the (local) government accountable for failing to comply with its duties.

"If the Department had complied with its obligations after having received Ms Moore’s application for the registration of her daycare centre, the risk of Ms Moore leaving little Ava unattended on the bed alone, would have been eliminated.”

Moore has since fled the country. 

If anything, the senseless death serves as a critical reminder that parents and legal guardians must practice extreme caution when selecting a childcare facility. 

Here's how you can confirm that your child will receive proper care: 

Ask to see documentation

The Department of Social Development stipulates that all ECD facilities must possess an ECD partial care facility registration certificate, and an ECD learning programme certificate. Ask potential facilities for these documents.

Be sure to check dates: the documents must not be older than five years as ECD partial care facilities are mandated to renew registration at the five-year mark. 

Confirm registration 

Parents and legal guardians can do this by contacting the Department of Social Development directly on 0800 220 250 or emailing to

For a full list of verified ECD partial care facilities in the Western Cape, visit

Read more: 

What has your experience been with finding an appropriate ECD facility for your child? Share your comments by mailing to and we may publish your letters. Do let us know if you would like to remain anonymous. 

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