Day care can ease the student parent experience

Expansion improves on-campus accessibility for student parents

Parents and children enjoy a play area at the expanded UWSA Day Care. 

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

Juggling studies and the demands of being a parent can be a struggle. On-campus daycare can help parents with pick-ups and drop-offs and access to their children between classes.

The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) Day Care recently completed a building expansion. Spots for 32 more children are now available meaning better access for student parents.

“We really hope that the (UWSA Day Care) and the expansion does help people who plan to be students or who are already students,” Laura Garinger, UWSA president, says. “It’s meant to alleviate this one aspect of their lives, so that they are able to focus on their studies.”

The 2,370-square-foot expansion of the building, located next to McFeetors Hall on Langside Street, brings the total number of spaces to 19 for infants and 96 for preschool. Of these, 50 per cent are allocated to students, 25 per cent to faculty/staff and 25 per cent to community members.

One student parent says the daycare has been a critical factor in pursuing her education.

“I know for a fact that I would not have been able to continue my education without (the UWSA Day Care),” Kim Bhathal, a student parent and president of the daycare, says. “So many families think that going to university is unattainable, especially when there’s small children involved. This expansion has made the attainable dream a reality.”

Bhathal also says that having the daycare on campus helps with maintaining contact with her children throughout the day, as well as easing the burden of dropping them off and picking them up.

“Having a daycare on campus means that my little ones are close to me at all times,” Bhathal says. “It's one less thing to worry about at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. As a student, I am always rushing, trying to get to class on time. Having the girls on campus means one less thing for me to worry about.”

The UWSA Day Care not only enriches the experience of student parents, but Garinger says it is good for the university population as a whole.

“Having students of different backgrounds and life experiences is an extremely important part of universities. Including personal experience as a lens to view topics at the university contributes to new knowledge and informs peers and faculty to perspectives different from their own,” Garinger says.

Despite the expansion, Garinger notes that there is still a waiting list for the UWSA Day Care.

Waiting lists are a problem throughout the province with parents waiting an average of 14 to 15 months for a spot, according to a Manitoba Child Care Association (MCCA)/Probe Research poll from October 2016, Pat Wege, MCCA executive director, says. But she adds that the UWSA Day Care expansion is a bright spot in this unfortunate scenario.

“I am very happy that (they) got the funding (they) needed to add new spaces. The staff and parents worked very hard to make their dream come true,” Wege says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 18, 2018)

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