Additional reporting by Riham Sheble
A married couple has been arrested by the Capital Security Police for running an illegal nursery from their apartment, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced.
Authorities said the arrested individuals are “Arab” but did not specify their nationality.
The man and his wife charged parents QR500 a month to look after their children from the unlicensed premises in Al Sadd where they were living with their own children.
Police were alerted to the situation by a woman of the same nationality as the nursery owners, who filed an official complaint after she discovered the couple had been beating her four-year-old child while in their care.
On investigation, police found that the daycare was not licensed, and was in violation of Law no. 1 of 2014, which regulates all nursery schools in Qatar.
The husband admitted that his wife had put an advert in local newspapers announcing spaces in the nursery, at a cost of QR500 monthly, and had several children registered.
The case has been referred to the public prosecutor for further legal action, the MOI added in a statement.
The Ministry appealed to parents not to enroll children in illegal nurseries “for the sake of the safety of children and to provide the appropriate conditions for the development of their skills, using sound education and taking into account security and safety standards.” It also urged parents to report any day care establishments they believed were operating without a license.
Qatar authorities have tightened regulations governing nurseries and childcare establishments following the fire at Villaggio Mall in 2012, in which 19 people died, including 13 children who were in a day care facility.
The current law, introduced in January 2014, requires all nurseries to be licensed with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. To register, nursery owners must have a clean criminal record and should leave a QR100,000 security deposit, which will be returned when the license is terminated, minus any fines for violations of the law.
Any nursery that operates without a valid licence will be fined up to QR100,000, and its owner could face a jail term of up to two years.
Since the law came into effect, nurseries have faced an increasing number of new regulations such as only being allowed to operate on the ground floor of a building and not accepting children older than four years old.
They are also required to employ several professionals, including a nutritionist. Nursery managers and owners report they are regularly inspected by Ministry officials to ensure they comply with the law.
These requirements can be expensive to implement, and some official nurseries have said they have been forced to hike their fees and other charges as a means of covering their rising costs.
This incident again raises the issue of the cost of child care in Qatar. With most licensed nursery fees well in excess of QR500 a month, some parents say they have no option but to look for other, more affordable options which may be unofficial and unregulated.