Waiting available as of December, according to CSU coordinator
The Concordia Student Union (CSU) daycare is set to open in March, according to the CSU general coordinator, Omar Riaz.
The daycare, which was first proposed in 2011, will begin construction at 1424 Bishop St. after the building contract is approved at the CSU council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 20.
According to Riaz, the daycare will be able to care for 50 children at a time, and will accommodate newborns and toddlers. There will also be a study space on the upper floor for parents. The waiting list is set to open up sometime in December, Riaz told The Concordian.
Once open, the daycare will be subsidized by the CSU which will bring the cost below the government-subsidized rate of $7 per hour.
According to an article published by The Concordian in February, the daycare was scheduled to open this fall. However, Riaz said difficulties in obtaining construction permits and unanticipated structural work on the partially demolished building delayed the project.
Riaz said the project is still well within its nearly $1.5-million budget. This is despite the partial demolition of the original building having been discovered to cost $15,000 more than anticipated due to an incorrect quote for the project distributed within the CSU, according to an article published by The Link in December 2016.
The project is a welcome addition for many student-parents. While Concordia currently has a daycare located at each campus, the spaces are limited and the waitlists are long. Larissa Buss is an education student who has two sons, aged two years and three months.
She said her oldest son was on the waiting list for Concordia’s daycare service for a year and a half before being admitted. Waiting lists for other daycares are similar. “They tell you, ‘Put your name on the list when you’re pregnant,’” she said.
Like all international student-parents, Buss does not have access to subsidized daycare services. She said daycare services are “absolutely necessary” for any parent who wants to study.
Christine Manendez, who works at the Concordia University Student Parents Centre (CUSP), also testified to the difficulties of being a student-parent. She said Concordia daycare services never returned her call when she was a student-parent. She said many parents delay or forego their education because they lack the time and money.
The idea for the CSU daycare came about as the result of a study commissioned by Concordia in 2011, titled “Student-parents and their children: How can we help them? An analysis of the student-parent experience at Concordia University.” The study found that “many student-parents do not have access to flexible, affordable childcare that would allow them to attend classes,” due to limited daycare spaces and the students’ financial restrictions. Furthermore, the study stated that “student-parents frequently report missing class, missing exams, handing in assignments late and even dropping out because there are simply no timely, safe, flexible, affordable childcare options.”
Although Concordia does not track the number of student-parents currently enrolled, the aforementioned study estimated that student-parents likely represent about 10 per cent of the university’s student population, which is comparable to the national average of 11 per cent.
Photo by Alex Hutchins