Parents left an Ottawa courthouse in anguish Wednesday after a charge of forcible confinement was dropped in a plea bargain with an Orleans child care provider who operated a daycare without a license.

During sentencing, the judge told the courtroom 11 children were confined to the basement of Helene Ranger's home daycare when she was arrested last October. According to a statement of fact read by Ontario court Justice Ann Alder, four children under the age of two were found in playpens in the home's furnace room in complete darkness.

"As a mother, the guilt that you have will never go away. You ask yourself, how did I not see the signs?" said one mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her child.

Crown counsel told CTV Ottawa the confinement charges were dropped after Ranger, 50, agreed to plead guilty to operating a daycare without a license and obstructing police.

Ranger was sentenced Wednesday to three years probation and a $5,000 fine. As part of her probation conditions, Ranger cannot operate or work in child care for a period of three years.

Parents who packed an Ottawa courtroom for Ranger's hearing Wednesday morning were left in disgust after the judge laid down her sentence.

"I think it's a walk in the park. My child was somewhat kept in prison," the mother told reporters as she fought back tears outside the courthouse. "My child was put in jail - she was locked in a basement."

Many of the parents told CTV Ottawa they had taken precautions when placing their children in Ranger's care. Some are now calling for tougher child care regulations and said they will consider pursuing civil action.

"These home daycares should be inspected . . . She told us she was registered and we got references and the references were great," said one parent.

Although the conditions of Ranger's probation prevent her from operating a daycare for the next three years, nothing can legally prevent her from caring for children in the future.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Natalie Pierosara